RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – The Fourth Circuit dismissed an antitrust lawsuit accusing Microsoft of driving GO Computers out of business. See ruling.
GO Computers and its founder, Jerry Kaplan, created PenPoint, a program that lets users write on the screen of a handheld computer. They claimed Microsoft saw PenPoint as a threat and used its dominance to intimidate other major players in the digital market from endorsing, funding or building products for PenPoint. Microsoft allegedly went so far as to create the faux competitor “PenWindows” that it pulled off the market as soon as GO folded in 1994.
But GO did not file its antitrust claims until 2005, more than 11 years after the four-year statute of limitations established by Congress had expired. The circuit said Kaplan and GO gave “no fewer than four separate tolling arguments to sidestep” the statutory limitations period, but they needed to establish fraudulent concealment to convince the appellate judges. They didn’t.
“Kaplan and GO were on inquiry notice of their claims as of 1992, when enough red flags had flown that a reasonably diligent person would have investigated and acted,” Judge Wilkinson wrote.