November 30, 2005 10:28 AM PST

Microsoft tells judge it's antitrust-compliant

WASHINGTON--Under fire for a marketing plan that may have improperly favored Windows Media Player, Microsoft on Wednesday told a federal judge that it's trying hard to avoid any anticompetitive behavior by employees.

At a conference in the same courtroom here last month, the company took heat from U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly amid news that one of its employees had devised a marketing agreement that would have forbidden portable music player makers from bundling anything except Windows Media Player with their devices.

Although that document was quickly amended and never went out to manufacturers, its existence--and the judge's scolding--prompted Microsoft to direct "a very serious inward look at its compliance efforts," Charles Rule, an attorney representing Microsoft, said at the 50-minute follow-up meeting on Wednesday.

Rule said it was "with some chagrin" that the company discovered the music player incident. Microsoft has been working diligently to comply with a consent decree it entered into with the Bush administration in 2002 to settle a long-running antitrust suit, he said. Echoing Kollar-Kotelly's words at the last conference, Rule deemed the music player incident a "source of great concern" and "unacceptable."

In response, Microsoft plans to be more proactive in fending off such occurrences, which it described in more detail in a recent report filed with the court, Brad Smith, the software maker's general counsel, told the judge. Smith said he came to Washington to communicate "the seriousness of purpose we've brought to bear to address the issues raised in October." He said the matter has drawn input from Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, CEO Steve Ballmer and the company's board of directors.

"One conclusion we reached very quickly was it was important for us to step back and look at everything we're doing," Smith said, particularly in light of the software maker's recent departmental reorganization.

Among other plans, the company intends to expand "antitrust training" to a greater, though unspecified, number of employees across multiple divisions. It already requires the sessions for its top officers. Since November 2001, more than 28,000 of its more than 50,000 employees--most of whom worked in the Windows division--have also received the training.

Microsoft also plans to impose several layers of internal review on a greater number of documents in the precontract stage, in hopes of catching problems like the music player one. Right now, one senior business person and one attorney must review documents from the company's platform and services division, which includes Windows. The new plans would extend that requirement to the entertainment and devices unit as well.

The plans drew no complaints from Kollar-Kotelly, who said she was happy that the company had listened to her criticism and "pleased at the renewed vigor in compliance efforts."

13 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
MS Fox guarding the hen house
THE ONLY REASON Mr. Bill is "complying" is because he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar AGAIN by the Anti-Trust Judge.

This will continue to happen as long as MS is "self regulating by its' in-house compliance board members".

The Department of Justice had their chance & they gave them a small slap on the wrist.
What? No fine for this "error in judgement"?

The only way to change this illegal monopoly of sharks is to DO YOUR JOB DOJ!
Posted by Llib Setag (951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gov't needs to stay out of business
Woot, more government regulation, not only stepping over the boundaries of the constitution but crushing its original intent, just what America needs.....
Posted by Rolndubbs (194 comments )
Link Flag
In other words, ......
..... MS won't do it if they get caught....
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MS won't do it
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/fiat_coupe_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/fiat_coupe_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
MS won't do it
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/alfa_romeo_gt_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/alfa_romeo_gt_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
In other News!
Charlie Manson will be conducting sensitivity training for inmates!
Posted by Mister C (423 comments )
Reply Link Flag
LOL
Yeah, Charlie and Jeff Dahmer both. ;-)

Seriously...

It seems like predatory use of their monopolies has become such an integral part of the Microsoft culture, they don't even realize it's illegal.

Reminds me of this Seinfeld quote...

"Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? I tell you, I gotta plead ignorance on this thing, because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing is frowned upon... you know, cause I've worked in a lot of offices, and I tell you, people do that all the time." -- George Costanza
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Link Flag
Minor problem
"Microsoft tells judge it's antitrust-compliant"

In the rest of the article, you got "its" and "it's" right, but you messed it up in the title!
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Actually, the usage is correct...
as far as my learning goes...

... it's is a contraction for 'it is', like in 'it is compliant'.

... its is the possessive form, like in 'its products'.

See <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.stormloader.com/garyes/its/#top" target="_newWindow">http://www.stormloader.com/garyes/its/#top</a> foe example
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.