WASHINGTON – Since a federal appeals court has overturned a lower court’s order to break up Microsoft, the parties in the Microsoft antitrust case have three main options:
- Either the government or Microsoft could appeal to the Supreme Court. But since both sides found victories in the appeals decision, this is considered unlikely.
- The government could return to the district court, with a new judge, and decide a new penalty. The appeals court upheld the government’s central claim, that it illegally kept its monopoly, and that could be used as a basis to decide whether to push for a breakup or ask for other remedies. It will take at least 45 days for a new judge to be randomly assigned to the case.
- The two sides could settle. Legal experts speculate that the business-friendly Bush administration has no stomach for the case and wants to quickly end it. The states say they want to play it tough, but recently said their “door is always open” to settlement talks.