US Report: Remaining states stand firm on DOJ suit

On Monday, South Carolina dropped out of the group of 20 States and the District of Columbia who had joined forces with the US Department of Justice to take on Microsoft earlier this year.

Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa attorneys general said Monday that they are committed to taking part in the trial and have no plans to back down. South Carolina cited the Netscape/America Online merger as its reason for getting out of the fight -- claiming that the union shows that there is competition in the Internet marketplace.

However sources at other states said that the merger has nothing to do with the operating system market and Microsoft's monopoly power. Other sources said that South Carolina has been one of the states that has not participated much in the preparation or execution of the lawsuit and has had little communication with the other states thus far.

The official responsible for quarterbacking the states participating in the Microsoft antitrust case said Monday he doesn't expect other states to drop out. "It's full speed ahead," said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, adding that South Carolina's announcement earlier in the day to pull out will not affect the current case "in any way shape or form."

He said that a defection would have been more significant had the government been losing. "But the case has gone strong for us so far," he said. "The trial is focused on alleged unlawful conduct. And that remains a very important part of the case."

Holly Zimmer a spokesperson for the Minnesota Attorney General's office agreed that South Carolina's withdrawal has no bearing on the antitrust suit's core legal issues. "We still believe there have been violations of law and we're presenting cases of law in Washington."

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