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The American Antitrust Institute on Friday filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to bar the Department of Justice from settling its antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. “Hopefully, this will expedite the process to get our case decided before the DOJ completes its settlement agreement,” said AAI President Albert Foer. The Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group filed a lawsuit suit Jan. 24 charging that the agreement violated the Tunney Act because the government failed to adequately explain how it evaluated alternatives to the settlement reached last year with Microsoft. In its suit, AAI alleges that the Justice Department’s antitrust division and Microsoft failed to disclose all the software titan’s contacts with lawmakers. The group also wants the agency to explain its decision not to pursue a break-up of Microsoft over antitrust violations. “There were lots of press reports that Microsoft talked to Congress, but there was nothing in the settlement documents about contact between Congress and Microsoft,” Foer said. Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said the company made all Tunney Act-mandated disclosures, while declining further comment. The Tunney Act is a Richard Nixon-era law that requires court consideration of antitrust settlements, among other things. Although the AAI filed comments with the Justice Department on the Microsoft settlement, lack of federal disclosure hindered the task, said Robert Lande, a law professor at the University of Baltimore and AAI research fellow. “We would have much more meaningful comments if we had received more info,” he said. Another relatively recent Tunney Act violation occurred in May 2000 when the Justice Department required divestitures in approving Alcoa Inc.’s $5.7 billion acquisition of Reynolds Metals Co., Foer said. Regulators and Reynolds failed to identify who bought the assets, he said, while adding that the sales turned out not to be anti-competitive. “We have felt for a while now that the Department of Justice has increasingly been not disclosing the required information under the Tunney Act,” Foer said. Copyright (c)2002 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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