A trial date of Feb. 8, 2000, has been set in the Department of Justice's antitrust lawsuit against Visa and MasterCard.

Judge Barbara S. Jones of U.S. District Court in Manhattan assigned the date Friday. It is three and a half months later than the original date- Oct. 29, 1999-specified for the trial by Judge Milton Pollack, who removed himself from the case last month for conflict-of-interest reasons.

Federal prosecutors filed suit Oct. 7 alleging that various Visa and MasterCard rules and practices stifle competition and innovation in the credit card industry.

The next hearing scheduled in the case is Jan. 21 when lawyers anticipate discussing any disagreements they may be having about document production. Lawyers for both sides agreed to a June 18 deadline for document production and a Nov. 12 deadline for certain depositions and the identification of expert witnesses. The final date for pretrial motions will be Jan. 14, 2000.

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