In the latest chapter in the seemingly endless anti-trust litigation against Microsoft Corp., the giant company won its appeal in a case brought by GO Computer Inc., which claimed it was put out of business by Microsoft in 1994. But GO Computer didn't file suit until 2005, well past the four-year statute of limitations, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled last week, affirming a lower-court decision.
GO claimed that its stylus-operated handheld computer called PenPoint was driven under by Microsoft, but the 4th Circuit decision found that "enough red flags had flown that a reasonably diligent person would have investigated and acted sooner." The suit alleged Microsoft stole GO’s trade secrets to create a faux competitor to PenPoint called PenWindows, pressured Intel to withhold its endorsement and funding for PenPoint, and withheld technical information to ensure that Microsoft’s own software would be incompatible with PenPoint.
"The injuries at the core of this case were committed, if at all, no less than 11 and closer to 15 years before GO filed suit," the ruling stated. "There is a place for finality in the law."
GO Computer's attorney, Sean Lev with Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel in D.C., couldn't be reached for comment today. Microsoft's attorney, David Tulchin with Sullivan & Cromwell in New York, says the decision "was unquestionably correct and disposes of a case that if it had merit would have been brought about a decade earlier.”