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The Justice Department appointed a lawyer to head the international antitrust enforcement division who helped write a court filing in favor of Microsoft in its historic monopoly case. William Kolasky will disqualify himself from any further matters involving the software company, the department said Friday. The appointment does not require Senate confirmation. In his job, Kolasky will be responsible for coordinating enforcement with foreign governments. Like the U.S. government, the European Union is pursuing Microsoft for anticompetitive practices. Kolasky’s appointment came as the deadline approached for a federal judge to appoint a mediator to guide settlement talks in Microsoft’s four-year-long antitrust fight. Both sides held a private conference call Friday with U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, but neither would say afterward what was discussed. Microsoft said in a statement that settlement talks were continuing. Participants in the conference call, speaking on condition of anonymity, said mediation was discussed, but the judge made no final decision. A second conference call could come next week, the participants said. Kollar-Kotelly forced the lawyers to start talks last week and keep working through the end of October for a settlement. If no agreement has emerged by Nov. 2, she said she will hold hearings to decide what penalty Microsoft should face for hurting competition and breaking antitrust laws. Kolasky’s appointment at Justice came as the European Union awaits Microsoft’s response to complaints that the software firm tried to harm customers in Europe. Microsoft also is accused of obstructing the EU’s investigation by lying to investigators and offering false letters in support of the company. While at Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering in Washington, D.C., Kolasky worked for the Association for Competitive Technology, a group heavily funded by Microsoft. Kolasky’s boss at the law firm was C. Boyden Gray, one of former President Bush’s advisers. ACT President Jonathan Zuck said Kolasky was part of Gray’s team and “did provide some input” on the brief, which repeated many of Microsoft’s arguments. Kolasky did not immediately return a call for comment at his law office. Both U.S. and European prosecutors are pursuing Microsoft for similar antitrust offenses. Normally, Kolasky’s job would be used to coordinate those efforts, former Justice Department official Charles Stark said. “As a general proposition, the U.S. agencies and the European Commission have made a particular point of coordinating or at least cooperating on remedies issues” when looking at the same offender, said Stark, who has worked with Kolasky in private practice. Justice Department spokeswoman Casey Stavropoulos said Kolasky will disqualify himself from the Microsoft cases, but “his responsibilities don’t deviate from what previous officials in that position have done.” Steven Lubet, a law professor and ethics expert at Northwestern University, agreed with Kolasky’s decision not to participate in such cases but said he was disturbed by the appointment. “The notion that one could move immediately from a Microsoft-funded position to a Microsoft-regulating department is not encouraging,” Lubet said. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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