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Computer maker files antitrust suit against Microsoft

Tangent charges Microsoft with violating the Sherman Act and seeks to recover triple damages from the software maker.

Computer maker Tangent has filed a federal antitrust suit against Microsoft, accusing the software maker of anticompetitive behavior that forced it to overpay for the Windows operating system.

The suit, filed last week in the Northern District of California, charges Microsoft with violating the Sherman Act and seeks to recover triple damages from the software maker.

"Microsoft's exclusionary and restrictive practices...have caused significant harm to (Tangent) by increasing, maintaining or stabilizing the price it paid for Microsoft's operating system software above competitive levels," Tangent said in its suit. Tangent, based in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Burlingame, makes computers, servers and thin clients, primarily for the education, government and business markets.

A Microsoft representative did not comment on the specifics of the suit, saying only, "We've received a copy of the lawsuit and it is under review."

The lawsuit cites, in large part, the case brought against Microsoft in 1998 by the U.S. Department of Justice and several state attorneys general, as well as the findings of fact from Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson.

Jackson was later removed from the case and Microsoft eventually settled that complaint. The company has since come to terms with many other companies including Time Warner, Sun Microsystems, RealNetworks and Be.

In its suit, Tangent claims that Microsoft "has not been complying fully" with the final judgment that was entered into in the government case in November 2002. That settlement required Microsoft to, among other things, provide other companies with technical documentation needed to interoperate with the Windows desktop operating system.

"Microsoft has delayed producing usable specifications and its specifications have been inaccurate and incomplete," Tangent said. "Moreover, although Microsoft was required to offer licenses to third parties, the terms of those licenses were too burdensome."

The suit cites

The judge overseeing Microsoft's settlement with state and federal regulators has also recently criticized Microsoft for its "foot-dragging."