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Law conference to focus on Microsoft case
(March 22, 1999)

A panel of distinguished academics, practicing attorneys, journalists and members of Washington think-tanks, will be guest speakers at a day-long symposium on the landmark civil antitrust case the U.S. Department of Justice and 20 state attorneys general have brought against one of the most powerful and successful companies in history, Microsoft.

The symposium, to be held on Friday, March 26, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in the Reading Room of Starr Hall at the School of Law, is sponsored by the Hartford-based law firm of Wiggin & Dana and run by the editors of the Connecticut Law Review.

Panelists will include Charles (Rick) Rule, partner at the law firm of Covington & Burling and former head of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division under Presidents Reagan and Bush; William Kovacic, professor of law at George Washington University Law School, a national expert in the field of antitrust litigation; and Robert Levy, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Washington, DC-based Cato Institute, one of the nation's leading conservative think-tanks.

Other panelists include: Harry First, professor of law, New York University School of Law; Albert A. Foer, president, American Antitrust Institute; Leonard Orland, professor of law, University of Connecticut School of Law; William H. Page, professor of law, Mississippi College School of Law; Will Rodger, correspondent, Inter@ctive Week/ZDNet; and Jonathan Zittrain, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University Law School. The panel will be moderated by Robert M. Langer of Wiggin & Dana. The proceedings will be published in the next issue of the Connecticut Law Review.

Although the current legal dispute is not the first time the government and Microsoft have litigated antitrust issues, it has the potential to be the most significant, says Peter Barile, a symposium editor for the Connecticut Law Review.

In this latest installment of the legal saga, the government alleges that Microsoft has, among other transgressions, unlawfully bundled its brand of Internet web browser to its operating system, in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The government contends that bundling Internet Explorer with Windows 95 has either unfairly harmed or foreclosed competition from the browser market.

Microsoft has vigorously defended itself against the government charges, asserting that the inclusion of a browser with an operating system is the natural development of the operating system and that such bundling does not preclude consumers from using other browsers. The company and its defenders have further asserted that Microsoft has engaged only in legitimate business conduct and that the antitrust case is a vehicle for those who would strike down those who become successful.

Computer, media, and legal experts have proclaimed that what is at stake in this case is nothing less than the future of the Internet. Critics of Microsoft fear that a Microsoft victory will allow the company to be the gatekeeper of the Internet. Microsoft sympathizers fear that a government victory will ruin an American success story and suppress innovation in the computer field. With the merging of Internet technology with television and radio on the horizon, some have asserted that the future of mass communications is at issue.

For information or reservations, contact Barile or Danielle Ferrucci, by phone at (860) 570-5331 or fax: (860) 570-5332, by March 23.

David Bauman