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Justice tallies cost of Microsoft antitrust case

The Justice Department says it has spent $12.6 million, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of its budget for such matters, in litigation against Microsoft since late 1989.

Federal monopoly busters have spent $12.6 million investigating and litigating against software giant Microsoft, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The amount, which is less Microsoft's day in court than one-tenth of 1 percent of its budget for such matters, has been spent over the past nine-plus years, the DOJ said. This and other information related to the case was provided by the Justice Department in response to a series of written questions from Sen. Slade Gorton (R-Washington).

"We would like to see more details," said Cynthia Bergman, a spokeswoman for Gorton. "But the senator feels that any amount is too much for this case. It's good for Microsoft's competitors, because they're getting free legal representation."

Microsoft's headquarters is in Redmond, Washington.

The department's antitrust unit has brought the landmark case against Microsoft in which it alleges the software giant used predatory tactics to squash Netscape's market-leading Netscape browser, perceiving it a threat to the Windows monopoly. Microsoft did this in part through exclusive contracts that forced PC manufacturers to favor Internet Explorer over Navigator, the government contends.

Closing arguments in the case were made last month, and Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson is due to release the first decision on the case soon.

It spent $4.8 million pursuing the case in fiscal 1998, just 0.29 percent of the department's litigation and investigation costs in that fiscal year.

The following fiscal year, through February 26, 1999, it spent $1.62 million on the case, or about one-tenth of one percent of the Justice Department budget for litigation and investigation.

For the rest of the year, the government expects to spend an additional $690,000 in connection with the case against Microsoft.

The department also listed other expenditures related to Microsoft. For instance, it paid $213,731 to lawyers as litigation consultants between June 1995 and February 26, 1999.

Reuters contributed to this report.