February 21, 2006 4:54 PM PST

Computer maker files antitrust suit against Microsoft

Computer maker Tangent has filed a federal antitrust suit against Microsoft, accusing the software maker of anticompetitive behavior that forced it to overpay for the Windows operating system.

The suit, filed last week in the Northern District of California, charges Microsoft with violating the Sherman Act and seeks to recover triple damages from the software maker.

"Microsoft's exclusionary and restrictive practices...have caused significant harm to (Tangent) by increasing, maintaining or stabilizing the price it paid for Microsoft's operating system software above competitive levels," Tangent said in its suit. Tangent, based in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Burlingame, makes computers, servers and thin clients, primarily for the education, government and business markets.

A Microsoft representative did not comment on the specifics of the suit, saying only, "We've received a copy of the lawsuit and it is under review."

The lawsuit cites, in large part, the case brought against Microsoft in 1998 by the U.S. Department of Justice and several state attorneys general, as well as the findings of fact from Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson.

Jackson was later removed from the case and Microsoft eventually settled that complaint. The company has since come to terms with many other companies including Time Warner, Sun Microsystems, RealNetworks and Be.

In its suit, Tangent claims that Microsoft "has not been complying fully" with the final judgment that was entered into in the government case in November 2002. That settlement required Microsoft to, among other things, provide other companies with technical documentation needed to interoperate with the Windows desktop operating system.

"Microsoft has delayed producing usable specifications and its specifications have been inaccurate and incomplete," Tangent said. "Moreover, although Microsoft was required to offer licenses to third parties, the terms of those licenses were too burdensome."

The suit cites recent disagreements between regulators and Microsoft and also claims that Microsoft's new Windows Vista OS "promises more bundling tying and undocumented interfaces."

The judge overseeing Microsoft's settlement with state and federal regulators has also recently criticized Microsoft for its "foot-dragging."

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11 comments

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Foot dragging was inevitiable
The US Justice Dept should have known that MS was not going to comply. They were way to soft in their punishment and rememdy. I really don't think that they thought it through nor understood just how evil MS is. At least the EU is putting MS into line with no funny business.

If it wasn't for the EU, one could be mistaken in thinking that crime pays, although I guess when you add it up, crime did pay off in silver dollars for MS.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
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Evil
"I really don't think that they thought it through nor understood just how evil MS is"

Yes they are evil. They are worse than companies building WMDs. Worse than companies trafficking drugs and laundering money. Worse than telcos overcharging on their bills because they know most users won't complain for a small amount. Worse than companies that promote tobacco to minors. Worse than banks that bankrupt a whole country to be able to buy cheap bonds.
Come on. Get a life. Microsoft isn't evil. It's just a selfish corporation as all are, acting for their own interest, as they should. When they break the law, punish them. When they don't, leave them alone.
Posted by Hernys (744 comments )
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Another bankrupt company looking for money from Microsoft
Just another bankrupt company looking for money from Microsoft. Due to former lawsuits, Microsoft was forced to stop giving volume discounts to bigger customers. That's something that hurts anyone who buys computers from Dell, HP, or any national company. Just another example of the government making things worse.
Posted by lingsun (482 comments )
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Meaning of "overcharging"
I still don't know what the meaning of overcharging is. MS being the only company that sells windows, I can't see how they can be selling it more than another company. If overcharging means they're making too much profit from it, I fail to see what's wrong with that as well, since I am in no way obligated to buy it and can go open source or apple whenever I choose to. Also assuming ms were licensing their protocols, I don't see how that would be of any help to this company, them being primarily hardware vendors as the article implies. Are they developing any server products?
Posted by Pascoli (74 comments )
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garbage
I know this company very well. There systems are garbage as they are extremely poorly built. They break down in less than one week stay away from this company! They out source there production to an another company in the East Bay in the Bay Area.
Posted by pcpertec (1 comment )
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Who doesn't outsource?
;)
Posted by wtortorici (102 comments )
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HOW MUCH DID THEY OVERPAY?
WHY CAN'T THESE JURNALISTS TELL US THE SPECIFICS... EXACTLY HOW MUCH DID THEY PAY/OVERPAY? EVERYONE PAYS THE SAME PRICE FOR MS OPERATING SYSTEMS DON'T THEY? DOES DELL GET A DISCOUNT? IT ISN'T LIKE THERE IS ANY ALTERNATIVE PLACE WHERE THEY CAN GET IT CHEAPER.
Posted by Quickshiper (18 comments )
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