States can seek penalties against Microsoft

? Nine states fighting to bring stronger antitrust sanctions against Microsoft cleared a legal hurdle Wednesday as a federal judge decided they have the right to seek penalties that would apply nationwide.

Microsoft had asked for a dismissal, saying the states could not show specific harm to their residents and that their pursuit would clash with a federal settlement reached in November.

“Microsoft quotes selectively from a number of cases with the effect of mischaracterizing their holdings,” U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote in response to the settlement argument.

“The court finds this tactic unpersuasive.

“The court concludes that Microsoft’s motion is without merit and must be denied,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote.

The states, which includes Kansas, and Microsoft are scheduled to deliver closing arguments Wednesday. A ruling is expected in late summer.