September 22, 2003 2:13 PM PDT

Judge: Microsoft must pay state legal tab

A federal judge has ordered Microsoft to pay nearly $1 million in legal fees to the state of Massachusetts, although the award was less than half of what the state has been seeking.

In an order posted online on Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly awarded $967,014 to the Massachusetts attorney general's office, which has been working on its antitrust case against the software giant for the past six years.

"We are pleased with the court's opinion to reduce Massachusetts' request for legal fees by over fifty percent," Microsoft representative Stacy Drake said in an e-mailed statement. "Our priority is to move past this case and to build more constructive relationships with state governments."

At the same time, Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly said he was pleased with the award, even though it was less than the state had been seeking. "I am pleased that Microsoft will pay for the costs associated with this antitrust action and look forward to upcoming arguments in federal appeals court," Reilly said in a statement.

Massachusetts is the lone state continuing to seek tougher penalties against Microsoft in a case brought by several states and the U.S. Department of Justice. The Justice Department and many other states reached a settlement on the antitrust matter that was approved by Kollar-Kotelly, but Reilly has vowed to fight on.

"This case has serious implications for competition and consumers and will have a significant impact on the future direction of our economy," Reilly reiterated on Monday.

Microsoft also faces an inquiry by the European Union as well as a private antitrust suit from Sun Microsystems. The company recently settled two other private antitrust suits: one filed by AOL Time Warner and the other by defunct operating system maker Be.


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