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Official: it's legal to screw Unix – MS beats Bristol rap

Connecticut jury clears company of antitrust violation

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MS on Trial Microsoft has beat the rap in the first of its serial antitrust trials to come to a verdict. A Connecticut jury has decided that the company did not violate antitrust law, but that it had broken a state law, the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. The plaintiff, Bristol Technology, was awarded a derisory $1 for this. Bristol had argued that Microsoft had damaged its business by preventing its access to Windows NT source code. Via an earlier contract Bristol had such access, but the price went up, and Microsoft groomed rival company Mainsoft instead. Bristol used Microsoft internal email traffic a-plenty in its case, and this made it abundantly clear that Redmond saw its relationships with these and other Unix companies as simply a means to an end. The end, as stated by several Microsoft executives, was the triumph of NT over Unix and the destabilisation of Java. Presumably the deceptions made clear in these emails are the deceptive practices the jury has found Microsoft guilty of, at a cost of $1. This is basically a token award, made because Microsoft had broken the law, but had not in the view of the jury caused any damage. This looks very like what we in the UK would describe as a perverse verdict. Bristol lawyers today said they were disappointed, and would be considering their options. ® Complete Register Trial coverage

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