Microsoft exec says Bristol offer is on the table

Microsoft is still open to a source code licensing deal with Bristol Technologies, and even made an offer on the day that Bristol filed its private antitrust lawsuit against the giant software maker, a senior Microsoft executive has said in a US district court.

Microsoft is still open to a source code licensing deal with Bristol Technologies, and even made an offer on the day that Bristol filed its private antitrust lawsuit against the giant software maker, a senior Microsoft executive has said in a US district court.

Jim Allchin, a senior vice president with Microsoft's platform products group, was Microsoft's first witness in its defense against Bristol's charges.

"Jim did a great job of showing that Microsoft 's intention all along has been to offer Bristol a source code deal -- before they sued us, on the day they sued us, and after they sued us," said Microsoft spokesman Tom Pilla.

Allchin also testified that Windows NT took nearly a decade to build, and cost billions of dollars and millions of man hours to build, according to Pilla. "We guard our intellectual property fiercely, just like any other company," the spokesman said.

Bristol has countered that Microsoft has offered to license only part, and not all, of the source code for the latest version of Windows NT, despite leading Bristol and the developer community to believe that Bristol would be given continued access to the code.

Bristol makes a product called Wind/U, which allows developers to write software applications to Windows application programming interfaces (APIs) and then port those applications to other operating systems, including Unix. Bristol maintains it can't build its product without the Microsoft code.

As Bristol tells it, Microsoft backed the smaller firm because it saw Wind/U as a way to encourage Unix developers to write server and workstation applications to Windows APIs. When sufficient developers had switched to Windows, it effectively tried to kill Wind/U and leave the Unix developers stranded on the Windows platform, Bristol contends.

"The heart of this case is that to exclude competition in the server (software) market, Microsoft wouldn't license any WISE partner the technology they need to support server applications," said Bristol attorney Patrick Lynch, referring to Microsoft's Windows Interface Source Environment licensing program.

Under cross-examination, Allchin conceded that the WISE mission statement posted on Microsoft's Web site is misleading, said Lynch, a partner with law firm O'Melveny & Myers LLP.

Microsoft's Pilla countered that the WISE statement is "just a white paper; it's not a contract."

Bristol's lawsuit, filed in the district court in Bridgeport, Connecticut, accuses Microsoft of antitrust violations of the Sherman Act, as well as of breaching Connecticut state laws.

After Allchin's cross-examination, Microsoft plans to call its first expert witness, John Bennett, a professor of computer science at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

District Court Judge Janet Hall, who is hearing the case, ordered that Bennett must confine his testimony to matters of technology.

"Dr. Bennett is qualified as an expert in the field of computer science. He is not, however, qualified as an expert in economics, law, marketing or contract analysis," Judge Hall wrote in a court order limiting the witnesses' testimony, according to a statement released by Bristol.

Microsoft could not immediately be reached to comment on the order.

Both companies have posted background information about the case and court filings on their Web sites. Bristol's is at http://www.bristol.com/legal/index.html; Microsoft's is at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/bti/.

More information about Microsoft's WISE program is on the Web at http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/backgrnd/html/msdn_wise.htm/.

Bristol Technologies Inc., in Danbury, Connecticut, can be reached at 1+1-203-798-1007, or at http://www.bristol.com. In Redmond, Washington, Microsoft can be reached at +1-425-882-8080, or at http://www.microsoft.com.

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