Second US Court Says No to Microsoft

Microsoft has been rebuffed a second time in its attempts to subpoena competitors in order to fight its antitrust case with the European Union. A U.S. District Court judge in Boston said Monday that allowing Microsoft to obtain documents from Novell would undermine European Union law.

The decision follows another in late March, where the company's subpoenas against Sun and Oracle in California were also rejected. A District Judge In New York is still deciding a similar request involving IBM.

With two of the three judges in the case now siding with the EU, it appears highly unlikely that the Redmond company will receive any help from U.S. courts in its long-running fight.

The documents were intended to help Microsoft refute charges that it was not complying with a 2004 antitrust decision against it. The company was threatened with fines of 2 million euros per day dating back to December 15, 2005 for non-compliance.

Judge Mark Wolf wrote in his decision Monday that if his court would enforce the Microsoft subpoena, it "would circumvent and undermine the law of the European Community concerning how a litigant may obtain third-party documents."

Wolf chastised Microsoft throughout the judgment for attempting to bypass European law. The company's decision to take this route only surfaced after the European Commission itself denied Microsoft's requests to obtain documents, saying they were confidential.

Wolf also admitted that, at first, he had been leaning towards siding with the Redmond company. However, Microsoft's repeated assertions that the European Commission lacked any authority to bar Microsoft from seeing the documents changed his mind.

Next week, Microsoft will face the Court of First Instance, the second highest court in the European Union, in an attempt to overturn the initial March 2004 ruling.

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