MS/DOJ: Appeals court to receive arguments on stay

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Monday set a schedule for Microsoft and the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to file motions in favour and against halting the ordered breakup of the company in its antitrust case.

The Appeals Court, however, said it would automatically suspend the schedule if US District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson sends his final judgment in the case to the US Supreme Court for review.

If the Supreme Court accepts jurisdiction, the schedule will be moot, the appellate court judges said in their order. But if the high court sends the case back down to the appellate court, the schedule will resume.

Jackson so far has had no reaction to more than a week of squabbling over which court -- the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals -- should hear the company's appeal or who should consider the motion for a stay. But he is expected to send the case to the Supreme Court, a move supported by the Government.

Also on Monday Microsoft filed a motion urging Jackson to deny the Government's request that Jackson send the case to the high court. Microsoft said there was no justification for bypassing the Appeals Court and sending the complex case directly to the Supreme Court, especially since the Appeals Court has said it will hear the appeal and in light of the possibility that the Supreme Court won't accept it.

The Government wants to avoid a hearing in front of the Court of Appeals, which overturned a ruling by Jackson in 1998 that had barred Microsoft from requiring PC makers who licensed Windows 95 to also take Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser.

Microsoft filed notice in the US District Court of Appeals on Tuesday, saying it will appeal the breakup order Jackson issued June 7. At the same time, the software vendor requested the stay, or temporary hold, on the breakup order and all other remedies ordered by Jackson.

The DoJ and 19 US states suing Microsoft immediately challenged the stay request, saying it was premature because the company should have to wait for Jackson to decide on the Government's motion to send the case directly to the US Supreme Court. But the Court of Appeals judges yesterday denied that motion.