MS Ordered to Pay Legal Fees in CT Antitrust Case

A federal judge Tuesday ruled that Microsoft Corp. would have to pay $US3.73 million in attorneys' fees and other legal costs to Bristol Technologies Inc., in addition to the $US1 million in punitive damages it already owes in the antitrust case.

In September, Judge Janet C. Hall in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Conn., said Bristol deserved $US1 million in punitive damages from Microsoft and not the $US1 a jury originally awarded in the case in July 1999.

Tuesday, Hall added to that award, in essence, by requiring Microsoft to foot some of the bill for the legal costs.

Keith Blackwell, Bristol's CEO, said he was, "very happy" with Tuesday's decision and its further implications. The ruling also means the company can seek a new trial, Blackwell said.

"We are then allowed to submit a motion to her, asking her to put aside the jury verdict ... and to grant us a new trial," he said.

That trial is "almost 100% likely to be a jury trial," Blackwell said, since Microsoft lawyers probably won't choose to put the case entirely in the hands of a judge who has ruled strongly in Bristol's favor.

Microsoft couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

In 1998, Bristol, a Danbury, Conn.-based company that builds software that allows Windows applications to run on competing operating platforms, filed suit against Microsoft. The lawsuit charged that Microsoft sought to end access to Windows programming interfaces and source code, which was used to create Wind/U, a Bristol product that allows the porting of Windows to Unix, OpenVMS and OS/390 operating systems.

The jury had cleared Microsoft of antitrust violations but found that the company had violated Connecticut's Unfair Trade Practices Act.

In her ruling, the judge said the jury's award "of nominal damages indicates only that the damages to Bristol's business were not sufficiently quantified by the proof Bristol offered." Nevertheless, Hall wrote, "the jury clearly did find that Bristol suffered an ascertainable loss to its business from Microsoft's deceptive act or practice."

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