A witness for Microsoft Corp in its legal battle with Bristol Technologies Inc contradicted a former colleague’s evidence that the company had offered Bristol the full source code for NT 5.0 for a fee. The tiny, Danbury, Connecticut-based software firm said that during his cross examination, Microsoft’s Takeshi Numoto impeached the testimony of his boss, […]
A witness for Microsoft Corp in its legal battle with Bristol Technologies Inc contradicted a former colleague’s evidence that the company had offered Bristol the full source code for NT 5.0 for a fee. The tiny, Danbury, Connecticut-based software firm said that during his cross examination, Microsoft’s Takeshi Numoto impeached the testimony of his boss, Dan Neault, by denying that Redmond ever offered Bristol full access to its Windows APIs in return for money. Earlier this month during the hearing at the Connecticut courthouse, Neault testified that Microsoft had told Bristol the more access it wanted to NT source code, the more it would have to pay- a statement which Bristol has vehemently denied.
Bristol CEO Keith Blackwell asserts that the pricing issue was never brought up at any stage during the companies’ negotiations in 1997 and 1998. Moreover, when Microsoft senior VP Jim Allchin took the stand, he too seemed somewhat baffled when it came to questions on pricing. Allchin testified that he wanted to change the terms of the WISE agreement so that it offered source code for client software only, not for server-based applications, and that he communicated as much to Bristol. Not at one point during Allchin’s two-day testimony did he refer to offering Bristol more source code for more money.
Yet a spokesperson for Microsoft yesterday told ComputerWire that both Allchin and Numoto were present during the April 1998 meeting with Bristol when license terms were discussed. It was during that session that Neault made it clear to Bristol that if it wanted more code it would have to pay, the spokesperson said. Whether both Allchin and Numoto both forgot the conversation, or whether the conversation didn’t actually happen, the apparent confusion is nonetheless bad for Microsoft’s credibility, just a couple of days before the trial is due to draw to a close.
In addition, Blackwell says Bristol’s attorneys managed to punch another hole in one of Microsoft’s main arguments; that it was negotiating in good faith and had no idea of Bristol’s impending law suit until the writ was slapped in front of the company in August last year. Bristol’s attorney Patrick Lynch yesterday showed the court an email from Numoto to a colleague at Microsoft, Jawad Khaki, dated April 28, 1998. In the email, entitled What NT technologies should be licensed to makers of Win32 runtime on Unix, Numoto said: …my understanding is to use players like Mainsoft and Bristol to get ISVs hooked on the Win 32 API set, then later, he added: We are meeting with Bristol all day tomorrow with four lawyers present to discuss what license arrangement can be worked out with them so that we can avoid litigation. Blackwell said the email had been sent well prior to Bristol engaging its attorneys for preliminary talks. They clearly knew that they weren’t legitimately dealing with us, yet they give it all this talk about negotiating in good faith, he said.
But the Microsoft spokesperson stuck to the company’s line that the lawsuit came as a total surprise. There’s been no evidence shown that shows that Microsoft knew that Bristol was going to sue in August 1998, he insisted. We were working very hard to negotiate a fair and reasonable contract for Bristol. That’s what we were doing before they sued us, when they sued us and today, when we’re still in trial. The offer is on the table.
Tomorrow, Microsoft is expected to present its last two witnesses, the former WISE program manager and Mark Hrinya, Bristol’s VP and controller. That should last through Wednesday, while on Thursday Bristol will get to examine its one rebuttal witness (Microsoft has none). The closing arguments will be heard Monday and the jury will go into recess as of Tuesday, whereupon a verdict could be reached in days or weeks.