RealNetworks Sues Microsoft for $1B-Plus

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RealNetworks Inc. sued Microsoft Corp. in federal district court in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, alleging that its rival used its monopoly power to restrict competition, to limit consumer choice and to "attempt to monopolize the growing field of digital media."

RNI alleged that Microsoft "pursued a broad course of predatory conduct over a period of years by abusing its monopoly power, resulting in substantial lost revenue and business" for RNI.

One bone of contention: RNI alleged that Microsoft used its power to restrict how PC makers install competing media players, such as RNI’s "RealPlayer," "while forcing every Windows user to take Microsoft's media player, whether they want it or not," RNI said.

Chairman and CEO Rob Glaser said that despite RNI's inroads in the marketplace, "We believe our business would be substantially larger today if Microsoft were playing by the rules."

"Our case is based on many of the same types of Microsoft conduct that U.S. courts have already declared to be illegal," RNI general counsel Bob Kimball said in a prepared statement, "such as failure to disclose interface information and imposing restrictions on PC makers."

He added that RNI "is seeking substantial damages that could well exceed $1 billion, in addition to injunctive relief to prevent future illegal conduct by Microsoft."

RNI said it expects the litigation to cost it $12 million in 2004, adding that the lawsuit could run for several years.

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