Citing a four-year statute of limitations, US District Judge J. Frederick Motz was forced to dismiss Go Computer's antitrust case against Microsoft because the complaints dated from the late 1980s. The complaints apparently referenced 20-year-old allegations that Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates discouraged other companies from doing business with Go. But Go launched its suit in 2005 after Go Co-Founder Jerry Kaplan, who had sold the company in the 1990s, purchased the rights to sue on Go's behalf.
Kaplan had been inspired to pursue the case by Microsoft's recent antitrust problems. In an era in which many Windows users are familiar with Microsoft's less-than-legal actions against companies such as IBM, Netscape, Novell, and others, Go's case is both less well known and more clear-cut. Go innovated a pen-based computing platform, shared technical information with Microsoft, and was then summarily destroyed by Microsoft. According to Go, Microsoft used vaporware product announcements, outright technology theft, and industry-wide coercion to ensure that Go never had a chance.
"Microsoft saw Go's PC operating system as a serious threat to its operating system monopoly and took swift covert action to 'kill' it just as it did the Netscape/Sun Java threat to its monopoly," Go wrote in a 2005 court filing.
Microsoft, which had claimed that the case had no merit 20 years ago, let alone now, declared victory with the dismissal. "This case should never have been brought against Microsoft, and we're pleased it has been dismissed by the court at this early stage," a company spokesperson said. However, Go still has a small chance to continue its pursuit of Microsoft. A state case remains in place in California, and Judge Motz noted that Go could file another federal case based on damages the company might have incurred during the past four years.
As for Microsoft, the company has settled virtually all of the antitrust cases that have arisen in the wake of its epic battle with the US government. But the company still faces a variety of antitrust concerns with the European Union (EU) and a Novell antitrust suit regarding WordPerfect.