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Microsoft’s European troubles deepened Monday, as EU nations quickly and unanimously backed antitrust action against the company. The EU’s case is based on grounds similar to the U.S. Justice Department’s action against Microsoft, but is expected to impose much heavier penalties, including up to $3 billion in fines. Also on Monday, Minnesota plaintiffs took a bite at the software giant’s heels. Plaintiffs attorney Gene Crew led opening arguments that state consumers had been overcharged on software licenses between 1994 and 2001. Plaintiffs are seeking damages between $283 million and $425 million in that case … The head of Alston & Bird’s Washington, D.C., litigation practice has found a new home at Freddie Mac. Ralph Boyd Jr. will serve as GC and director of government relations at the mammoth mortgage buyer, which drew scandal in November when it announced it had overstated 2001 profits by nearly $1 billion. Boyd has some experience with government relations. As assistant attorney general, he oversaw the Justice Department’s investigation into the 2000 presidential election in Florida … Like a wayward teenager, the Interior Department lost Internet privileges Monday. For the third time in as many years, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered the department to shut down Internet connections that he says remain easy prey for hackers. Lamberth, who is overseeing a suit by American Indian landowners seeking mining and grazing royalties, again urged the department to work with Special Master Alan Balaran to fix the security holes … The weddings continue in Portland, Ore., despite state AG Hardy Myers’ opinion Friday that same-sex marriages violate state law. For Multnomah County Chair Diane Linn, who made the decision to keep issuing licenses, Myers’ official opinion was less important than his prediction that the state Supreme Court would overturn the law as unconstitutional. Oregon’s high court has a history of enlarging upon federal constitutional rights. – Lori Patel

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