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Federal court report suggests Microsoft targeting Adobe, Acrobat

January 20, 2004

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The official Web site for Massachusetts State Attorney General Tom Reilly includes a range of PDF-based citizen-oriented publications, as well as several downloadable forms for feedback. Among the latter is a PDF document titled "Massachusetts Enforcement of the Litigated Microsoft Antitrust Degree" [PDF: 26kb] that provides a venue for state companies to file relevant complaints against Microsoft that involve a possible violation of the company's recent antitrust settlement with the Department of Justice.

Massachusetts is the lone state still pursuing harsher penalties against Microsoft in the matter, after the Federal government and a group of other state plaintiffs agreed to terms in a civil suit first brought against Microsoft in 1998 for alleged antitrust violations. In 2002, as noted on the Mass. AG's site:

" ... following an appeal and several court hearings, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued a judgment in the Massachusetts case prohibiting Microsoft from continuing certain unlawful conduct.

Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly is seeking stricter and more rigorous restrictions on Microsoft's business practices than those put in place by the Court judgment ..."

Late last week in a federal court brief, plaintiffs charged that Microsoft continues to engage in monopolistic actions in violation of the current antitrust settlement. For details, see the "Joint Status Report on Microsoft's Compliance with the Final Judgments" [PDF: 42kb])

In a related court filing last Friday, Massachusetts said it is investigating allegations that Microsoft was trying to stifle competition from unnamed Internet search engines, and also said it is "reviewing reports that a similar campaign is planned against document software such as Adobe Acrobat."

An Associated Press-sourced article headlined "State says Microsoft out to get Acrobat" further explains:

"Adobe's ubiquitous Acrobat software is among the most popular methods for exchanging electronic documents across the Internet and is regularly used by organizations, including the federal courts and Justice Department.

'If Microsoft is taking steps to hobble the competitive effectiveness of these rival products and thereby supplant them, such serial killing of competing technologies is a serious and troubling prospect,' wrote Thomas F. Reilly, the attorney general in Massachusetts."

According to published reports, Microsoft said it was difficult to respond to the state's charges "given the vague and unsubstantiated nature of these allegations."

When contacted by Planet PDF last Friday, an Adobe Systems spokesperson said "We have seen the status report, and are unaware of the specific, referenced reports. At this time, we cannot comment further."

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