Antitrust Chief Klein Leaving Justice Dept.

ByMichael J. Sniffen

W A S H I N G T O N, Sept. 19, 2000 -- Assistant Attorney General Joel I. Klein, wholaunched the antitrust case to break up computer software giantMicrosoft, is leaving the government at the end of the month.

“The time has come to seek new challenges,” Klein said in astatement today that did not disclose what his next job would be.“I have done what I set out to do here, and our work is on theright track.”

Klein intends to take some time off and then began a search forhis next job, Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona said.

Won Round 1 With MicrosoftKlein will leave before the courts render a final verdict on theMicrosoft case, but he won the first round. U.S. District JudgeThomas Penfield Jackson ruled after a trial that Microsoftillegally used monopoly power to thwart innovation by competitorsand ordered it split into two companies.

One would own Microsoft’s computer operating system, Windows,that dominates the personal computer market. The other would ownother software applications, like Office and Word.

Microsoft appealed the verdict and the Supreme Court is expectedto decide shortly whether to hear the appeal directly, as Klein andJackson proposed, or to have the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals forthe District of Columbia hear the appeal first, as the companyprefers.

“Joel Klein has been a champion for America’s consumers,”Attorney General Janet Reno said. “He has fought tirelessly formarketplace competition, and Americans have enjoyed betterproducts, more choices and lower prices as a result.”

The department announced that Klein’s principal deputy, DougMelamed, has been selected to replace him as acting assistantattorney general in charge of the antitrust division.

Klein’s tenure also saw a huge increase in criminal prosecutionsof international price-fixing cartels and expanded cooperation ininternational merger reviews with antitrust authorities in Europe,Australia, Canada and other nations.

Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan declined comment on Klein’sdeparture.

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