Microsoft, Bristol Settle Lawsuit
- By Scott Bekker
It’s not the big one, but Microsoft has at least managed to settle one of the lawsuits hanging over its head.
Microsoft Corp. and
Danbury, Conn.-based Bristol Technology
announced Wednesday that they have ended the legal wrangling that began in
August 1998, when Bristol filed an antitrust suit against Redmond and claimed
violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUPTA). The trial was
held in June-July 1999.
Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but last year, a
judge ordered Microsoft to pay Bristol nearly $5 million, including $1 million
in punitive damages, and $3.7 million in legal fees, for its violations.
Bristol’s primary complaint against Microsoft was that Redmond had licensed
some of the Windows source code to Bristol in the early 90s, then reneged on
the deal. “After initially approaching Bristol in 1991 and creating a
dependency for Bristol and its customers on the Windows programming interfaces,
Microsoft is now seeking to end access to this technology on all but Windows
operating systems. Microsoft is doing so by refusing to provide Bristol with
current and future Windows source code, and offering only a license that
Microsoft knows is oppressive, unworkable and unreasonable,” Bristol said in a
release at the time it filed the suit in 1998.
A jury partially agreed, dismissing the antitrust claims against Microsoft,
but did find in favor of Bristol on one claim under CUPTA.
Ironically, Bristol says it has a better relationship with
Microsoft now than it had prior to the lawsuit. “We continue to partner with
Microsoft,” says Jean Blackwell, vice president of sales for Bristol. “We license
[Windows] source code and include it in our products, and we continue to do
business with each other when it benefits both companies.”
“As a company, Bristol is much stronger as a result of the
lawsuit than when we started. The best outcome in the end was the settlement,”
Bristol makes products that allow developers to work across platforms. For
instance, its Wind/U product allows developers to port Windows applications to
Unix. Other platforms include Compaq’s OpenVMS, Linux, and IBM’s OS/390. Since
the latest version of Wind/U, released last October, does include Windows 2000
source code, the companies may have been close to a resolution then.
Microsoft was not available to comment, but a press release
on its Web site states that it is happy to have the litigation in the past, and
claims it did nothing wrong. – Keith Ward
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.