The Justice Department has decided International Business Machine's request for the withdrawal of a federal judge from the 10-year-old government antitrust cast against it legally was too little and too late.

The government's reply to IBM's request, made last month during the trial, said that the computer giant had urged the assignment of U.S. District Judge David Edelstein to the case and that it complacently participated in three years of pretrial proceedings and more than four years of trial before it decided it was dissatisfied with the judge.

Last July 19, IBM requested that Edelstein withdraw from the case because the company concluded that the judge "has a personal bias and prejudice against defendant (IBM) and in favor of plaintiff (United States)."

In its affidavit, IBM said that it waited seven years to accuse the judge of prejudice because "what in the past we saw as extremely vexatious and wrong-headed actions by Chief Justice Edelstein may now, we believe, be seen as strong indications of bias and prejudice."

IBM charged that "Edelstein's personal, extrajudicial bias and prejudice against IBM...has led him to abandon his role as an imparital trier of fact and adjudicator of law.... He has taken virtually every measure within his power to buttress and promote the prosecution and to restrict, harass and punish the defense."

The Justice Department responded today that the type of bias or prejudice necessary to require the jduge to withdraw from the case must be personal in nature and extrajudicial in origin. The computer company had no factual assertions of any extrajudicial source for the alleged bias, the Justice Department said.