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New EU Judges for Microsoft Case Proposed
Monday, June 20 2005 @ 03:58 AM EDT

This has to be one of the most interesting developments yet in the EU v. Microsoft case, from Reuters:

The top judge of the European Union's second-highest court has proposed changing judges in the Microsoft Corp. antitrust case, according to a letter sent to all parties in the case.

The move, shared with Reuters on Sunday by some of those who have seen the one-paragraph letter sent Friday, comes after internal court criticism directed at the judge heading the Microsoft case because of a controversial article he wrote.

The letter lays out plans by Court of First Instance President Bo Vesterdorf to transfer the case away from the current judge and panel to a larger panel which Vesterdorf will head.

The current panel of judges, five of them, is headed by the incredibly named judge, Hubert Legal. Here's what he did:

But Legal got into hot water at the court after he published an article in the French journal Concurrences (Competition) saying that some of the judges' clerks tended to regard themselves as "ayatollahs of free enterprise" and should avoid an impression of "arbitrary power."

These young "ayatollahs" can gain a central role when they speak the language of deliberations -- the working language of the court is French -- better than the judges, the article said. That angered judges and clerks at the court, numerous sources said.

Legal has said that his article was not intended to criticize Vesterdorf or the court.

Here's a longer version of the same Reuters story, which includes this quotation from Judge Legal:

"The essence of our work is to take into account both free enterprise and the regulation of the market," he said. "We cannot afford to stand on one side rather than the other. . . .

"We should first do our normal work, the same way we do in merger cases, of reviewing the legality of the decision," he said in the interview.

Only after considering the Commission's rationale should the court think about altering fines, he said." Now all 25 judges will meet to vote on Vesterdorf's proposals.

If it was anyone but Vesterdorf, I'd be really worried. He is the judge that refused to delay sanctions on Microsoft back in December. As a result, I'm only somewhat worried. It does sound, so far, more like a turf battle than a sellout. The original five judges, including Legal, would remain on the case, but would be supplemented with more, and with Legal no longer the lead judge. Here is the link to Concurrences.

Meanwhile, Microsoft remains Microsoft. Here's a story on Netscape fixing an "IE problem," which had been discussed at length on Microsoft employee Dave Massy's blog. Netscape, until the fix in 8.02, would show IE pages with XML as empty pages. Massy suggested solving the problem by removing Netscape, and lots of comments ensued, mostly critical of Netscape for causing the problem. Well, it turns out, according to AOL, that it really was an IE problem, caused by Microsoft:

But AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein blamed Internet Explorer for the fault. He said that when officials were amending the XML problem, they came across faulty documentation on Internet Explorer, which is the likely reason behind of the problem.

I don't know, personally, who is to blame, despite that deja vu feeling, but I recommend reading the comments on the Massy page. I found it illuminating to see the Microsoft world view.

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