Update: Netscape sues Microsoft over browser

Netscape Communications Corp., a subsidiary of Internet and media giant AOL Time Warner Inc., filed a lawsuit against Microsoft Corp. today, alleging that the software maker harmed Netscape with anticompetitive practices related to the Windows operating system.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, according to a statement from Mountain View, Calif.-based Netscape, which was acquired by Dulles, Va.-based America Online Inc. in 1999. AOL merged with New York-based Time Warner Inc. last year.

Microsoft's anticompetitive practices, upheld in a U.S. Appeals Court ruling, "resulted in harm to competition and antitrust injury to Netscape in particular," the filing alleges, according to the Netscape statement.

Microsoft declined to comment on the lawsuit in detail, but said it was disappointed at AOL's course of action. "The company has been using politics and legalese to compete against Microsoft for years. It's our feeling that this is just the next tactic in their plans," Microsoft spokesman Matt Pilla said.

The lawsuit is similar to the federal antitrust case against Microsoft, Netscape said. The U.S. Department of Justice and nine state attorneys general have reached a tentative settlement in the case, but nine other states and the District of Columbia have refused to sign off on the deal and continue to pursue legal action against Microsoft.

Netscape is seeking an injunction against Microsoft and an award of "treble damages," a type of award given in a private antitrust case that would be equal to three times any damages set by a court.

The injunction Netscape is seeking resembles a proposal submitted in December by the nine states that have yet to agree on settlement terms with Microsoft. That offer included restrictions on how Microsoft would be able to sell Windows to consumers and PC makers (see story). The aims of Netscape's lawsuit are "entirely consistent" with the efforts of the nine states that have yet to settle, Randall J. Boe, general counsel to America Online, said in the statement.

The lawsuit includes seven counts alleging that Microsoft used illegal anticompetitive behavior to harm Netscape. The alleged pattern of behavior started in 1995, when Microsoft began promoting its own Internet Explorer browser in a way that Netscape argues was detrimental to the Netscape browser.

Microsoft officials were not immediately available for comment.

However, during the company's antitrust trial in 1999, a key Justice Department witness conceded during questioning that former Netscape CEO James Barksdale may have "exaggerated" the extent of his company's problems with Microsoft (see story).

That came after a report by AOL's investment bank, Goldman Sachs, showing that 22% of PC makers and 24% of top Internet service providers were distributing the Netscape Navigator browser.

Related links:


Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

Bing’s AI chatbot came to work for me. I had to fire it.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon