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Real sues Microsoft, seeks $1bn damages

Once more round the Antitrust wheel

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Emboldened by its reception before the European Commission in Brussels last month, RealNetworks is to sue Microsoft for alleged anti-competitive behavior.

"We believe our business would be substantially larger today if Microsoft were playing by the rules," said Real's founder and former Microsoft executive Rob Glaser in a statement.

Real will seek more than $1 billion in damages, and expects the litigation to cost $12 million and take three years to complete. However, since the company is seeking "injunctive relief", an early decision could come sooner rather than later. Real's annual revenue is around $200 million, based on its most recent earnings.

The suit, filed in a San Jose court, alleges that Microsoft used its OEM contracts to block distribution of the Real Player, and with held API information.

RealNetworks' media player has been something of an obsession with its Seattle neighbor. As recently as 2001, Microsoft was found to be pressuring AOL to block its users from accessing content via Real Player, and requesting caps on content streamed in non-Microsoft formats. Those talks ended in acrimony.

And Windows boss Jim Allchin admitted at trial that Microsoft had planned to keep the descriptions of Windows Media Player APIs away from RealNetworks.

In its presentation before the EC antitrust investigation, RealNetwork demonstrated Windows working seamlessly with Real Player. Only this was a version of Embedded Windows XP. ®

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