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Microsoft to use email in defense

The giant reportedly plans to use a Netscape founder's email message to try to show it has not strong-armed the browser software maker.

Software giant Microsoft plans to use an email message from a Netscape Communications founder to try to show that the company had not strong-armed the browser software maker, according to a report.

In lawsuits filed in May, the Justice Department and 20 states claim that Microsoft used its dominant Windows position to compete unfairly against Netscape Communications and other companies.

Microsoft plans to use an email message sent by Netscape founder James Clark in which he suggests that the companies should work together, according to people close to the case, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The message was supposedly sent several months before a pivotal meeting between the two companies in June 1995. The government is alleging that at this meeting, Microsoft tried illegally to persuade Netscape to divide up the browser software market.

But Microsoft hopes to show that it was simply responding to this request by Clark in the June meeting, and that it never pursued antitrust practices against Netscape or any other software or computer maker, the Journal reports.

The government plans to counter with several memos written by top Microsoft executives to the company's CEO, Bill Gates, just before the meeting. In one message, Microsoft's senior strategist, Paul Maritz, writes that the goal of the meeting with Netscape's CEO Jim Barksdale, is to "move Netscape out of Win 95, avoid battling them in the next year," the Journal reports.

In different message after the meeting, another executive allegedly wrote to Gates that the meeting's goal was to "establish Microsoft ownership of the Internet client platform in Windows," according to the report.

The trial is set to begin next week.

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