Netscape chief denies `setting up' Microsoft

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MICROSOFT'S LAWYER, John Warden, yesterday accused rival Internet browser company Netscape Communications of "setting up" the software giant at a key meeting between company officials in June 1995.

The meeting is a focal point of the US government's antitrust case against Microsoft, cited as evidence by the federal government and 20 states that the world's largest software company illegally tried to crush its rivals.

Microsoft also asked US District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson to impose unspecified penalties against the Justice Department for withholding two pieces of evidence pertaining to the meeting.

Microsoft said the documents - including a letter from Netscape's outside counsel to the Justice Department two days after a meeting on 21 June - show that Netscape officials intended to provide information from the meeting to federal antitrust enforcers.

"Isn't it a fact ... that the June 21, 1995 meeting was held with the purpose of creating something that could be called a record and delivered'' to the Justice Department to build a case against Microsoft, Mr Warden asked Netscape's chief executive James Barksdale. Mr Barksdale called the suggestion "absurd''.

The government is today due to start showing eight hours of edited video testimony by Microsoft's chairman, Bill Gates.

Meanwhile, a US federal judge yesterday postponed Intel's antitrust trial before a US Federal Trade Commission administrative law judge at the request of both sides until 23 February to allow more time for trial preparation. Intel is accused of using its monopoly power in the market for computer chips to force rivals and customers into surrendering their patent rights.

- Bloomberg