Microsoft Corporation is a giant public multinational corporation that specializes in the development, manufacturing and licensing of a wide range of computer oriented products and services to people all over the globe. The company that came into inception in the year 1975 with the collective efforts of two childhood friends Bill Gates and Paul Allen has emerged as one of the biggest public computer corporations of the world. Headquartered in Washington, the organization with cumulative revenue of $62.5 billion as estimated in recent years provides employment to over 89,000 people. But here the discussion is not focused on the diverse services that Microsoft has provided at the disposal of its global users, but on the contrary the flip side of the progress which involves the different kinds of litigations that the organization has gone through over its three decade journey will be discussed and analyzed here. (Page and Loptka, 2007)
Litigations against Microsoft
A famous saying goes that when people start backbiting against you, it is time for you to understand that you are gaining fame. Similar is the case with Microsoft Corporation and the innumerable and diverse nature lawsuits and legal proceedings that it has gone through with the passage of time. An interesting thing to note here is that these litigations were not just filed against the corporation by other private companies, but in some situations even governments such as that of United States and European Union have also filed lawsuits against the organization. (Turner, 2006)
One of the interesting cases of litigation that were filed against Microsoft was with its conflict with Alcatel-Lucent in the year 2003, when at that time Lucent technologies filed a law suit in the California District Court against Gateway and Dell. Charges filed against Gateway and Dell said that both these companies are involved in violation of the MP-3 technologies that were earlier developed by Bell Labs which was a subsidiary company of the American Telephone and Telegraph. Microsoft voluntarily joined the lawsuit in the year 2003 whereas in the year 2006 Alcatel joined the litigation after it consolidated Lucent. After the initial lawsuit in San Diego was filed both companies filed additional lawsuits against each other, however the case took an interesting twist when Microsoft registered a lawsuit against Lucent at the International Trade Commission claiming that Alcatel-Lucent has infringed the patents of their corporation. Apart from this another case was filed in the San Diego court in which Microsoft asserted Alcatel-Lucent of infringing 10 of its major patents and these infringements cases are also being heard in courts of other states like Texas also. (Page and Loptka, 2007)
In another major case that actually brought two major software and computer baron organizations into the mainstream of dispute was in the year 1988 that brought Apple and Microsoft in the midst of a severe conflict that challenged each other’s hegemony and leverage in the computer manufacturing and software designing world. A law suit that was filed by Apple Inc against Microsoft were to prevent Microsoft Corporation and Hewlett Packard from using the GUI or the Graphic User Interface which was also being used at that time by some of the applications and designs of Apple company such as that in Lisa and Macintosh Systems. A common analysis that is found among technology experts as well as law experts was that by filing such cases and bringing them in court Apple’s main intention was to actually defame its contenders and wanted to find an easy way in declaring its hegemony in the world of technology by gaining intellectual property rights over the desktop metaphors and GUIs that were being used at personal computer level at that time. Nevertheless this did not emerge to be reality as Apple lost all claims on the basis of which the case was registered in court after a period of six years. Even the appeal filed in the Supreme Court of the country was denied to Apple. (Rubin, 1986)
Another interesting lawsuit and litigation that came on the surface against Microsoft was in the year 2008 when a woman from California sued the corporation of deceiving its customers by concealing the high failure rates of their latest launched product at that time which was the XBOX. In the petition that was filed in the court of Sacramento City, the woman stated that Microsoft has infringed the principles of multiple-state consumer protection and has used unfair and illicit competition laws for the divulgence of its new game gadget.
She further said that the company is busy selling its products despite the fact that they are completely aware that the hardware equipment incorporated in the gadget is likely to fail. The case was considered as an ethical violation towards the consumers through which Microsoft generates a substantial amount of revenue. However another opinion that circulated among the masses was that the gadget was perfectly fine and that many of the charges filed by the woman petitioner were completely baseless and irrational. (Tavani, 2004)