Microsoft Files Defense in Real Networks Case

 
 
By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-02-20
 
 
 
Microsoft Corp. on Friday filed its formal response to RealNetworks Inc.s anti-trust lawsuit against it, denying allegations that it is impeding competition in the digital media market.

In the "Answers and Defenses" filing in federal court in San Jose, Calif., Microsoft defended its business practices, asserting that competition is vigorous between Microsoft and RealNetworks.

RealNetworks alleges in the lawsuit it filed in December that Microsoft illegally used its monopoly power to restrict competition and consumer choice in the digital-media space by forcing its Windows Media player on Windows users. Part of Real Networks case is based on business conduct similar to what U.S. courts have declared illegal in other Microsoft antitrust cases, such as failure to disclose interface information and placing restrictions on PC manufacturers.

Microsoft responded to RealNetworks accusations in the filing, a required step in the court process. Microsoft asserted, among other things, that it provides extensive information to software developers like Real Networks about the Windows operating system and that it provides methods for OEMs and end users to configure their systems so that only other media players such as RealNetworks are visible.

"The digital media marketplace is characterized by intense competition and a continual stream of new technology and innovations and companies entering the market each week," Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake said in a statement. "This is a case where a leading firm is seeking to use antitrust laws to protect and increase it market share and to limit the competition it must face."

RealNetworks officials said the company remains confident in its legal action and is prepared for a case that could take three years to reach a trial.

"Its to be expected that Microsoft would deny our claims," said RealNetworks spokesman Greg Chiemingo. "As we stated when we filed our suit, we have a strong suit and plan to vigorously pursue it to trial."

To read more about RealNetworks business direction from an interview with CEO Rob Glaser, click here.

Microsofts filing on Friday follows a motion from Jan. 9 in which it is seeking to have the case transferred from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. Both companies have headquarters in Washington—Microsoft in Redmond and Real Networks in Seattle. A hearing on the motion for a venue transfer is scheduled for March 1.

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