Microsoft has been hit by another wave of antitrust litigation. Operating system maker Be has filed a federal lawsuit against the software giant, claiming that anti-competitive practices stunted Be's growth.
In the lawsuit, filed in the US District Court in San Francisco, Be said it is suing for "the destruction of its business as a direct result of the illegal and anti-competitive practices of Microsoft".
Chief executive Jean-Louis Gassée, a former Apple Computer executive, launched Be in 1990. However, last year it sold its technology to Palm and is in the process of dissolving itself.
Be's flagship operating system had a devout following among a small group of technical insiders, although it never achieved commercial success.
In its lawsuit, Be charges that Microsoft's licensing agreements prevented computer makers from offering the BeOS on the same systems that ran Windows.
According to Be's court filing it had an impossible time getting its operating system included on machines from major computer makers, most notably Compaq and Hitachi.
In September 1998, Hitachi verbally committed to loading the BeOS alongside Windows on a line of PCs.
Be had planned to offer software that would easily let computer owners choose between the two operating systems, but said it was notified by Hitachi in November 1998 that Microsoft's licensing deal with Hitachi effectively prevented such an approach.
Microsoft has not yet responded to the lawsuit.
Meanwhile there are claims that Microsoft has already used its proposed settlement with the US Justice Department to impose harsher terms on computer manufacturers that buy its software.
In a complaint filed with US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the nine states seeking tougher sanctions against Microsoft said they should be allowed to speak at a hearing on the proposed settlement due to start on 6 March.
They claim that Microsoft has taken advantage of the terms of the proposed antitrust settlement "to adopt significantly more onerous licensing terms and to impose them on the [computer manufacturers]".
The states maintain that the Redmond giant had forced computer manufacturers to agree to sign a provision that would go further in preventing them from enforcing the patents on their own hardware against Microsoft.
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