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Microsoft rebuts dramatic Caldera charges

A brief filed last week in Caldera's private antitrust lawsuit is a "rogue document" that tries to "mislead and confuse" the judge hearing the case, Microsoft says.

A brief Caldera filed last week in its private antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft is a "rogue document" that intentionally tries to "mislead and confuse" the judge hearing the case, the software giant told the court today.

Caldera filed a lengthy consolidated statement of facts last Wednesday, making public for the first time dramatic allegations. Among them was the claim that email exchanges proved Microsoft's top executives plotted ways to make their applications fail when they ran on DR-DOS, a rival operating system that was once marketed by Novell.

Replying with a brief of its own, Microsoft argued that Caldera's document is so laced with false and unsupported claims that U.S. District Judge Dee V. Benson should disregard it.

"Caldera has produced 186 pages of 'pulp fiction,' meant more for public consumption than to assist the court in deciding the summary judgment motions at issue," Microsoft attorneys wrote. "Far from setting out facts, the [brief]; is filled with argument, hearsay dressed up as 'evidence,' demonstrable mis-quotations and outright misstatements."

In many cases, the brief argued, Caldera's claims are derived from selective quoting of evidence and are contradicted when a full reading is offered. In other cases, Microsoft lawyers continued, Caldera made claims that are not supported by the evidence cited.

An example, Microsoft said, is Caldera's contention that Redmond executives acknowledged that code that caused a beta version of Windows 3.1 to produce an error message when running on top of DR-DOS "had taken its toll" on the rival operating system.

The claim "is not supported by any cited reference," Microsoft's brief argues, adding that the exhibit cited for support "nowhere mentions the ... code as 'taking a toll on DR-DOS'.

Microsoft's document was only one of three filings made today in the case, which Utah-based Caldera brought against Microsoft in 1996. Other motions filed today concerned nine motions Microsoft filed earlier seeking to have the case dismissed.

Hearings on the motions are set to start on May 25. If Microsoft's motions are denied, the case is scheduled to go to trial in January of 2000.

Today's filing went on to say that Caldera wrongly cites "brainstorming" emails discussing the possibility of causing Windows to display an error message when running on DR-DOS as proof the Microsoft violated the law.

"As Caldera acknowledges, Microsoft never put any such message in the commercially released version of Windows 3.1.," Microsoft argued. "Whatever 'bad intentions' Caldera seeks to find in the email discussions ... did not result in the action the emails discussed."

Caldera chief executive Bryan Sparks called Microsoft's brief "kind of fascinating," saying it showed the weakness of the software giant's case.

"Saying things are being taken out of context is the only defense they have," said Sparks in an interview. "If the judge agrees with them he'll throw out the case. We're confident he won't do that."