Bristol Technology Inc. v. Microsoft Corporation, U.S. District Court, Connecticut, Case No. 398-CV-1567 (JCH).
Nature of the Case. State and federal antitrust action brought by a software developer seeking court ordered access to Microsoft's source code for Windows NT 4.0 and 5.0.
Plaintiff. Bristol Technology, Inc., is a small privately held software development company based in Danbury, Connecticut. Bristol develops software that enables computer application programs originally written for Windows operating systems to be converted or recompiled to run on alternative operating systems, such as UNIX, OpenVMS, and OS/390. Its main product is Wind/U. Attorney: O'Melveny and Myers.
Defendant. Microsoft Corporation makes software products, including Windows NT 3.0, 4.0, and 2000 operating systems. Attorney: David Tulchin, Sullivan & Cromwell.
Summary. Microsoft makes, among other things, operating system (OS) software. One line of its OS software is Windows NT. Heretofore, NT has primarily been used on network servers and technical workstations, while Windows 3.X, 95, and 98 has been used by PCs. The OS most commonly used on network servers and technical workstations has been the various versions of UNIX, such as Sun Microsystems' Solaris.
Bristol is a small software developer that makes Wind/U, a product which allows applications written to run on Windows OS to also run on UNIX OS.
Bristol had a contract with Microsoft that commenced in September 1994, and expired in September 1997, under which Microsoft provided Bristol with source code for Windows NT 3.0 and earlier OS software. Microsoft was not obligated under this contract to provide Bristol with Windows NT 4.0 or 5.0 source code, and Microsoft has not provided it to Bristol. Bristol and Microsoft negotiated, but did not reach, a contract to provide 4.0 and 5.0 source code.
Bristol alleges in this suit that Microsoft refuses to provide Bristol with the source code for these newer versions. Microsoft alleges that it has offered these to Bristol, but Bristol has rejected the terms of Microsoft's contract offer. Microsoft further alleges that it has contracted to provide this source code to Bristol's competitor, Mainsoft.
Bristol alleges that Microsoft's refusal to give it Win NT 4.0 and 5.0 source code constitutes a plethora of federal and state antitrust violations. Microsoft's position is that this is a matter of contract law. That is, Microsoft owns Windows NT, and is willing to license access to source code to Bristol, but Bristol has rejected its terms. Microsoft contends that Bristol is trying to use claims of antitrust law violation to obtain a court order that essentially writes a license contract that Bristol could not obtain through arms length negotiations, and which would give it a competitive advantage over its rival, Mainsoft.
Claims for Relief. The Plaintiff's Complaint alleges fourteen claims for relief. The first six are based on federal antitrust law. Bristol alleges monopoly leveraging of its alleged monopoly of PC operating systems, refusal to deal in connection with its alleged monopoly in workstation operating systems, refusal to deal in connection with its alleged monopoly in departmental server operating systems, denial of an alleged essential facility, and attempted monopolization of the markets for workstation and departmental server markets. The Complaint also alleges six violations of Connecticut antitrust law. Finally, the Complaint alleges unfair trade practices and estoppel. The complete list of the claims for relief is as follows:
Bristol also seeks a preliminary injunction ordering Microsoft to give to Bristol source code for Windows NT 4.0 and 5.0.
Status. The Complaint was filed on August 18, 1998. Bristol and Microsoft filed a pre-trial dispositive motions. A hearing on Bristol's motion was held on October 14, 15, 19, 20, and 28. Judge Hall denied all motions on December 30, 1998. The case went to trial in June, 1999. On July 17, 1999 the jury returned a verdict for Microsoft on all antitrust counts. It found for Bristol on a state unfair trade practices count, and awarded $1.00.
Chronology with Links to Pleadings and other Documents
Bristol Technology, Inc.
State of Connecticut, Amicus Curiae