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Microsoft Accused Of Destroying Evidence In Streaming Media Patent Case

by Glen Shapiro, LawAndTax-News.com, New York

22 November 2004


As part of its ongoing legal dispute with Microsoft, streaming media software firm, Burst.com on Monday filed a pretrial motion with the US District Court in Baltimore alleging that the software giant has destroyed vital e-mail evidence relating to the dispute, and asking for this to be taken into account during its forthcoming patent infringement trial.

Burst claims that following a collaboration in the late 1990s between the two firms over the development of a technology designed to send video and audio files electronically, Microsoft broke the relationship off, and offered to pay Burst $1 million for the jointly developed software.

When the smaller firm refused, Microsoft allegedly elected to use the technology anyway, incorporating it into Windows Media Player 9 without first obtaining a license from Burst.

However, at issue currently is the larger firm's e-mail retention policy, which urges Microsoft employees to destroy internal e-mail every thirty days.

"There were critical documents and critical time periods from critical players that relate to our case. And these documents and e-mails were destroyed," Bruse Wecker, representing Burst.com, explained to CNET News last week, continuing:

"The question in our motion is whether this was unintentional, or by design, and, if so, what would the remedy be?"

However, Microsoft spokeswoman, Stacy Drake explained to the news service that although the 30-day policy is in place within the software firm, it is not a hard and fast rule, and correspondence relating to lawsuits is exempted.

She went on to refute the implication that Microsoft has been uncooperative during the dispute, arguing that:

"We have produced millions of documents and emails in cases we were involved in and have provided a half a million emails and documents to Burst already."


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