Microsoft is sued for antitrust once again:
- RealNetworks filed an antitrust suit against Microsoft on Thursday, alleging that its competitor illegally monopolized the growing field of digital media by requiring every Windows user to take Microsoft’s media player, whether they want it or not.
RealNetworks alleged that the software giant has violated state and federal antitrust laws, exploiting its monopoly to restrict competition.
The Seattle-based digital media company said Microsoft “pursued a broad course of predatory conduct over a period of years by abusing its monopoly power, resulting in substantial lost revenue and business for RealNetworks.”
….The lawsuit alleges that Microsoft, which builds the Windows operating system that controls more than 90% of the personal computers in the United States, restricts how PC makers install competing media players. Microsoft forces Windows users to take Microsoft’s media player, “whether they want it or not,” to the exclusion of players made by RealNetworks or other competitors, RealNetworks alleges.
“While we much prefer competing in the market – as we are doing and have done for nine years – our board has made a carefully considered business decision to take this action to end Microsoft’s illegal conduct and recover substantial damages on behalf of our shareholders,” RealNetworks chairman and chief executive Rob Glaser said in a statement. “We believe our business would be substantially larger today if Microsoft were playing by the rules.”
The lawsuit comes as Microsoft tries to settle a host of other antitrust suits filed by competitors and the federal and state governments. Still pending are lawsuits by Santa Clara-based Sun Microsystems and Santa Rosa-based Burst.com.
The cases claimed Microsoft violated state antitrust laws and laws against unfair competition. They were filed in the wake of a 1999 federal court ruling that Microsoft abused its power to maintain its monopoly on the Windows operating system. [AP]
It would seem old habits die hard.
John Markoff has more in the NY Times:
- Legal experts said that Microsoft was gambling that such lawsuits would not prevent it from continuing to integrate applications with its operating system, which still effectively monopolizes the PC market.
“This is a calculated risk on Microsoft’s part,” said Herbert J. Hovenkamp, an antitrust expert at the University of Iowa. “I anticipate they will continue to have to litigate every time they bundle.”
In the federal antitrust case, Microsoft unsuccessfully argued that Web browsers were integral components of personal computer operating systems. That argument, Mr. Hovenkamp said, will be an even more difficult claim to make in the case of a software application that is intended to play music and videos.