Two Texans are being sued by Microsoft over 'cybersquatting' - the registration of Internet domain names which it claims as its trademarks. The move by Gates' company is further evidence that the electronic frontier is slowly but surely being tamed. According to Microsoft's suit, the two have registered domain names relevant to several major companies, but the ones that concern Microsoft are microsoftwindows.com and microsoftoffice.com. The company says it offered Kurtis Karr and Kenny Brewer a small amount of money for the domains, but that this was rejected. Karr and Brewer are currently operating on the Web as launchbase.com, which appears to be a form of portal for a range of affiliated sites. These include wall-mart.com, which is labelled as unaffiliated to Wall-Mart, and busweek.com, which leads through to businessweek.com. In a written statement, Microsoft said that Karr and Brewer's "registration, offer to sell and use of these domain names is deliberately designed to be confusing to consumers and is a violation of federal and state trademark law." Microsoft wants damages, possession of the domain names and any associated profits. ®
Both Microsoft and Bristol Technology spun merrily into the New Year after a judge's ruling that both sides could paint as a victory. Bristol, which is suing Microsoft claiming anticompetitive behaviour, was refused immediate access to Microsoft source code, but the judge threw out Microsoft's application for dismissal. The trial will therefore go ahead from 1 June. Bristol had applied for a preliminary injunction forcing Microsoft to turn over source. In 1997 Microsoft terminated an agreement which gave the Unix developer access to Windows source code, so Bristol's application for the injunction was effectively an attempt to implement a 'business as previous' arrangement while the company got on with suing the crap out of Microsoft. Microsoft is claiming the denial of the injunction as a massive victory. Bristol however points to several aspects of Judge Janet Hall's ruling that favour it. Says Hall: "Bristol has thus shown a substantial likelihood that it will be able to prove antitrust injury at trial." And more disturbingly for Microsoft: "Moreover, there is ample evidence that Microsoft intended to harm Bristol with respect to limiting the effectiveness of its Wind/U product." Microsoft on the contrary claims that the judge says that Bristol is unlikely to prevail on every single one of the 14 claims Bristol has made. In which case one wonders why she's bothering with the trial. ® Complete Register trial coverage
Judge Janet Hall is of the opinion that NT 5.0 (aka Windows 2000) won't make it out of the door before the end of this year. And with a bit of luck, it'll slip into the next millennium. The Register believes this may be the first instance of a judge ruling on the viability of Microsoft's rollout schedules. Exquisitely, Judge Hall's ruling on Bristol Technology's application for a preliminary injunction (Earlier Story) hinges to some considerable extent on the date Microsoft manages to ship Windows 2000. In her judgement she says: "There is conflicting evidence regarding the release date. It is the conclusion of this court that at this time, the release date is likely to be toward the end of 1999." So Q4 is achievable. But not definite: "Because of its finding of irreparable harm, the court sets the case down for trial commencing on June 1, 1999, in order to attempt to retain this court's ability to render a meaningful judgement should Bristol prevail and should the release date for NT 5 be later than this court now expects." (Our italics) From the text of the judgement it's clear that Judge Hall thinks that if Bristol doesn't get access to Windows 2000 source code six to eight months in advance of the release date, the company is finished. Its source code contracts with Microsoft expired in 1997, and didn't cover NT 4.0 or NT 5.0/Win2K, and if it doesn't get access to these, it will be unable to develop a new version of its Wind/U product. Microsoft's claims that Bristol hasn't been harmed, or that the harm was self-inflicted, receive short shrift from the judge: "Microsoft argues that there can be no irreparable harm because Bristol has large cash reserves ($4 million). Thus, Microsoft claims, there is no threat of Bristol's going out of business. This argument misses the essence of the harm here." Redmond's notion that a marooned former partner will be OK because it can always spend the pennies it's saved up is certainly treasurable. "Further," she says, "Bristol has demonstrated that it will clearly suffer significant if not complete loss of goodwill if it does not obtain the NT 5 source code immediately." The source code terms Microsoft has offered to Bristol however don't seem viable. Microsoft has offered a cut-down version of the source combined with a 400 per cent increase in licensing fees, and the judge says of them: "The offered terms have an anticompetitive intent and effect." In her view "Bristol is more likely than not to succeed" in its claim, so why then did she fail to grant Bristol access to the source? Her judgement is basically favourable to Bristol in that it concludes the company probably has the ability to demonstrate harm and anticompetitive activity, but says that Bristol has not done so yet. In order to qualify for injunctive relief, Bristol would have had to have demonstrated "a clear showing of likelihood of success." It's a fairly narrow matter, which is where that possible slippage of Windows 2000 would come in useful. If Judge Hall cracks through the trial quickly in June, and finds against Microsoft, she can force the release of Windows 2000 source in time for shipment in Q1 2000. ® Complete Register trial coverage
Microsoft and British Telecom are refusing to comment on speculation that the software company is getting ready to buy two cable TV franchises from the telecoms giant. Reports at the weekend suggest that if the deal goes ahead, it would leave Microsoft free to hook millions of homes onto the Internet giving the company an enviable position in the UK. But as the UK sluggishly began to return to work today after the extended holiday break, both companies remained tight-lipped refusing to comment on the rumours. What is known, is that BT has already invited companies to register their interest in London-based Westminster Cable and BT Cable Services in Milton Keynes, north of London. The company is being forced to get shot of the pair in return for approval from the European Union for its part in British Interactive Broadcasting (BiB) -- an interactive joint venture with BSkyB, Matsushita and Midland Bank due to be launched later this year. When BT first announced it was looking for a buyer, pundits looked no further than the UK's three major cable operators -- Cable & Wireless, NTL CableTel and TeleWest. But in October last year, it was reported that the three only showed lukewarm interest in the franchises, with one source suggesting that all three had concerns about the cost of replacing BT Cable's "outmoded analogue network" with a digital service. ®
Cable & Wireless plc has bought German Internet Service Provider (ISP) ECRC Network Services for £27.5 million as part of its recently announced £1 billion five-year plan to build a European super network. The deal is expected to give the company direct access to the German corporate and wholesale Internet markets and according to one senior executive, forms a "vital part of our European expansion plan". Based in Munich -- the centre of the IT industry in Germany -- ECRC sells Internet access direct to its corporate customers and to other ISPs and has Internet points of presence (POPs) in all Germany's major cities. One of Germany's top five ISPs, ECRC is expected to turnover around £17 million in 1999. With confirmation of this acquisition, C&W now has a presence in the two largest Internet markets in Europe. Together, they account for nearly 60 per cent of the European Internet market. ®
The millionaire founder of London-based reseller Micromuse is languishing in a Guernsey prison cell following a post-Christmas drugs raid. According to reports in yesterday's Mail On Sunday, Christopher Dawes was arrested on the neighbouring Channel Island of Alderney after a £1.5 million spending spree was cut short by a Boxing Day cocaine swoop. The high flyer landed in sleepy Alderney in his private helicopter and snapped up the £415,000 Chez Andre Hotel, writing out a £60,000 cheque as a deposit. His euphoria was shortlived, however, when police and customs officers pounced and netted the island’s first crack cocaine seizure. Dawes’ £3 million helicopter and £3 million private jet were impounded and stripped by Customs. Two packages found during the raids were being analysed pending the trial. The States of Alderney Court remanded Dawes in custody until next Thursday. Dawes, 39, was said to have fallen in love with Alderney, previously buying several properties there including the £285,000 Devereux House Hotel and £350,000 private Sauchet House. He was one of the elite band of just half a dozen who own more than 30 of the island’s 2,000 acres. He also has a home in Amsterdam. The Australian-born entrepreneur launched Micromuse in 1989 two years after he arrived in London. The company made him a millionaire when he resigned as chief executive and president in October and cashed in £24 million of shares. The arrest coincided with The Sunday Times listing Micromuse in its list of predicted successes for 1999. The publication said the company showed potential opportunity for brave investors, but noted Dawes "taking an increasingly back-seat role prior to his exit", a move which had damaged the company’s reputation, it said. ®
Most of the staff at Gateway subsidiary ALR UK were laid off last Wednesday as the direct PC company reorganised its activities. A source at the company told The Register today: "The managing director [Julian Neath] was told to give people their redundancy agreements last Wednesday." He said: "The staff knew it was going to happen but they were still upset. There are still three of us left here at ALR Newbury but we're on contract with Gateway until the end of February." He added that all stock was now coming out of Gateway Ireland, a fact that is sure to antagonise premier UK distributor Norwood Adam, which claims it has a long standing contract that needs to be fulfilled. A Gateway representative said that she had no knowledge of the redundancies. ®
Although on the face of it IBM and AMD have no cross licensing deal on x.86 technology, it now appears that Big Blue will make K7 chips. The complex cross licensing technology on copper technology -- which exclusively prevents Intel from using it -- is likely to lead to boards from IBM later in the year. Last week The Register exclusively reported that a 1GHz K7 will emerge from AMD at the beginning of next year. As reported here earlier, AMD has a complex cross licensing agreement with Motorola on process technology, allowing it to leapfrog chip giant Intel. Further, IBM also has a set of complex cross licensing agreements with a number of senior industry players, including National Semiconductor, Intel and many others. No one from IBM Microelectronics was available at press time to either confirm or deny that it had cross licensed AMD technology. Rana Mainee, director of research at AMD Europe, said: "The deal with IBM is still in place, although we said in September that we did not need to use it." He said: "To some extent we're still supply constrained but in 1999 we'll achieve more parity between supply and demand." That was due to increased production at Fab 25 and output from Dresden when production started. Compaq was reluctant to comment. Its involvement is that Dirk Meyer formerly worked on the Alpha platform. The Alpha platform is now part of Compaq's brief. And, ironically (or should it be copperonically), Intel is forced to manufacture Alpha chips for its competition, because of a timely US government intervention. However, Terry Shannon, editor of industry newsletter Shannon knows DEC said that it was highly unlikely there was close collaboration between Compaq and AMD at the high end. ®
Goatee-bearded crooner George Michael isn't quite the child-and-PC-loving philanthropist The News of the World would like to make him out to be. In their first edition of the New Year, the News of the Screws devoted several inches (that’s column inches) to claims that Michael was donating £4.7 million of his hard earned cash so that he could buy a PC for every single school in the UK. But a source close to Michael said the story was two-and-a-half years old and to the best of her knowledge, the superstar never ever had any intention to do so. Sounds like a careless whisper has been found guilty of making a big splash -- and all for nothing.
The Digital Anvil, AMD and Microsoft connection is to deliver further desktops using the K7 platform in Q3 1999, we can reveal. The source that told The Register last week of the copper interconnect K7 in Y2K with a 400MHz bus, today revealed it has several other customers interested in its products. He said: "I don’t think [the Compaq Presario with K7] will be an exclusive. We have other customer wins too." AMD is pitching its PC OEMs with a joint Digital Anvil convergent technology, but he refused to be drawn on whether Microsoft was involved in the equation. He said Digital Anvil will not exclusively work with AMD. "The market is too small for that and companies like DA depend on volume, he added." That means that small company Digital Anvil is being wooed by two of the biggest x.86 based companies in the world. We understand other platforms are interested in its technology as well. ®
Sources at LG Semicon in Newport, Gwent, today said that any decisions on restructuring still depended on discussions at its head office in Seoul, Korea. The South Korean government has insisted that both LG Semicon and Hyundai's semiconductor division merge, but both companies missed the end of year deadline it set. The source at Newport, which is in UK principality Wales, said: "While the merger talks are going on, we have to wait for issues to be resolved." He added: "At the moment, we are not aware of any restructuring plans." ®
A senior executive at Compaq UK described US press reports of it exiting the networking business as rubbish. Richard Brown, product marketing manager of the networking division at Compaq UK, said: "We have re-organised the business and taken network interface cards (NICs) and modems into the business they belong in." He said NICs will now go to the server division. "This will allow us to focus on the high end business," Brown said. Compaq was now focusing on high end business. He said: "This is to do with DEC-Cabletron arrangement. There's a whole ream of networking products on the site." He added: "The WSJ got it wrong. The networking division of Compaq has a lot of high end products to look after like FDDI and Gigaswitch." Brown said the smaller products were being moved to the enhancements and options division, which also sells monitors. "These are commodity items," said Brown. "This is an advance into the networking market rather than a retreat." ®
Cambridge-based printer and plotter manufacturer, Xaar, has failed to sell any new licences in 1998. Xaar licences its technology to printer manufacturers - most of which are Japanese companies. It usually sells around two such agreements per year, but failed to sell any in 1998, mostly due to the slow down in the Japanese economy, Xaar said in a statement issued on Monday 4 January. Xaar company secretary, Jonathan Lowe, said the statement was issued to keep investors in the picture. "Our stock was tipped by the Daily Mail over the weekend and started to rise this morning (Monday). Most of our investors will be aware that we haven’t made any sales but we wanted to be sure that everyone was in the know," he said. Lowe said that the lack of sales was a "short term financial problem" but that the medium to long term picture was still healthy. "We expect 99 to be better than 98, but it will still be hard work," Lowe said. Xaar has being pursuing legal action against printer manufacturer Calcomp, for alleged patent infringement. Calcomp has issued its own statement saying it will stop selling the range of CrystalJet printers at the heart of the row and that it may have to close it operations altogether. Calcomp’s major shareholder is Lockheed. Lockheed has said it will no longer want to keep funding Calcomp and will keep it afloat long enough to dispose of it. ®
Sources close to Compaq France told The Register late today that it was still attempting to solve its redundancy situation in the country. Last week, we reported that 1,400 Compaq-DEC jobs could be on the line as part of a widespread restructuring across Europe. (Story: Now France gets Santa Pfeiffer treatment) But a representative said: "Right now, this is purely rumour. Compaq has been working with the works council in France as well as in Germany." She said a formal announcement was likely to arrive by the end of this week. "The job cuts have not been announced yet," she said. She confirmed there were negotiations in Germany too. Compaq has several PR companies operating in the European sphere. ®
We have to confess we got a little angst-ridden over Xmas with schadenfreude coming out of our boots... A quick look at the wires described a big NatSemi deal as the Cyan .15 micron chip. We thought we'd lost it but we hadn't. It turned out that the publishing company which dare not speaketh its name (Ziff Davis) had mistaken Cyan for Cayenne. NatSemi says its Cayenne...Cyan is light blue...as in DEC Insider boys and girls...
Adobe is set to announce its acquisition of Web page design software developer GoLive tomorrow. Sources claim the deal is done and dusted and is simply awaiting final clearance from "Adobe's legal machine" before the takeover can be announced officially. The financial terms of the deal are not known. GoLive has achieved much success in the design community through its CyberStudio WYSIWYG Web page creation tool, largely by rapidly adding support for the latest Web technologies, such as Dynamic HTML, and offering a DTP-style look and feel, making it easy for designers working in more traditional media to move to the Web. That's in marked contrast to Adobe's own Web design tool, PageMill, which was one of the first WYSIWYG Web page layout applications but lost its edge years ago. While the company announced a record quarter last month for the three months to 27 November, its results for the full fiscal year showed a two per cent fall -- the quarterly results were driven solely by upgrades to Adobe's two key offerings: Photoshop and Illustrator. Big upgrades don't happen every quarter, however, and Adobe needs some more top-selling applications. It's been working on one, a competitor for DTP leader QuarkXPress, codenamed K2 (which will replace the ageing PageMaker), for some time. CyberStudio will add a second. CyberStudio is currently only available for the Mac, but sources suggest a Windows release is due real soon now. Under Adobe, that's likely to happen sooner rather than later. ®