WASHINGTON The U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday (Feb. 28) that it has modified its proposed settlement of its antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. to toughen sanctions against the company for its antitrust violations.
The department's Antitrust Division said Microsoft and the nine states that had accepted an earlier proposed settlement agreed to the changes.
The modifications to the antitrust settlement included dropping a patent provision sought by Microsoft that critics said would have prevented companies from enforcing patent claims against Microsoft.
Another clarified the definition of applications programming interfaces so it could not be interpreted as nullifying other provision of the settlement. The changes also revised the definition of Microsoft middleware in the settlement so it would not be construed too narrowly.
The proposed settlement "precludes other practices that Microsoft might engage in to impede middleware threats" to its monopoly position, the government said.
The Justice Department said it reviewed more than 30,000 public comments submitted to the Antitrust Division on the proposed settlement. The modifications were filed in advance of a March 6 hearing before U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who must decide whether to approve the proposed settlement.
"The modifications announced today simply make this effective settlement even better," said Charles James, assistant attorney general for antitrust.