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Caldera Challenges Microsoft Tiny Utah Company Sues Software Industry Giant Over Alleged Monopoly

Carey Hamilton Associated Press

Caldera Inc., the small software firm backed by Novell Inc. founder Ray Noorda, has filed an antitrust suit against Microsoft Corp.

The suit accuses Microsoft of willfully maintaining a monopoly over its operating software for personal computers through unlawful pricing, programming and licensing. Caldera seeks damages but did not state a specific amount.

Caldera filed the suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court here, a day before it acquired the DR-DOS operating system from Novell. Details of the acquisition were not made public on Wednesday.

The suit comes two years after Microsoft settled an antitrust case brought by the U.S. Justice Department over its base operating system product. Microsoft was forced to change contracts with personal computer manufacturers that purportedly shut out competing operating system software - the programs that run a computer’s basic functions.

Under the agreement with the Justice Department, Microsoft neither admitted nor denied guilt.

Caldera attorney Stephen D. Susman said the company is pursuing the matter to “open the market to Microsoft competitors.”

“This is a landmark case in our industry,” said Bryan Sparks, Caldera’s CEO. “We’re in a unique position (to sue Microsoft) because as a company we sell a product and we’re not reliant on Microsoft for technology exchange.”

“It is our intention to finish the job the Justice Department left unfinished when it settled its antitrust complaint through consent decree,” Susman said.

Microsoft attorneys were reviewing Caldera’s complaint on Wednesday.

“We have not yet seen the complaint but based on the press release, this appears to be simply a rehash of tired old allegations that are completely without merit,” Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray said.

“It’s ironic given all of the new competition and innovation that’s going on in the software industry today that Caldera is filing a lawsuit about outdated technology that the market has long left behind,” he added.

Microsoft’s basic operating system, called MS-DOS, became a standard on personal computers when IBM chose it to run its first PC back in 1980. MS-DOS is still a foundation in Microsoft’s Windows operating programs.

DR DOS, a version of DOS developed by Digital Research Inc. to rival MS-DOS, was purchased by Novell in 1991 and discontinued in 1994. Caldera plans to reintroduce the full line of DR DOS products and offer additional product features, company officials said.

Among the allegations, Caldera contends that Microsoft “informed certain PC manufactures that they could not obtain Windows or be given access to essential information, product support and service if they did not purchase and ship MS-DOS, to the exclusion of DR DOS.”

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