Beautiful day? Not if you're Microsoft

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The Independent Online

A US lawsuit brought by a company backed by rock group U2 is threatening to reopen old legal wounds for Microsoft.

A US lawsuit brought by a company backed by rock group U2 is threatening to reopen old legal wounds for Microsoft.

Californian technology company Burst.com is alleging in the action that Microsoft stole video-streaming technology it had developed.

It has emerged during the legal process that memos were sent to Microsoft staffers telling them to destroy emails more than 30 days old. District Judge Frederick Motz has ordered that the group's founder, Bill Gates, and its top software executive, Jim Allchin, give evidence concerning the emails.

Richard Lang, chairman of Burst, says the revelation may have a bearing on other cases settled by Microsoft, such as the $1.32bn (£700m) Sun Microsystems patent action or the $600m antitrust settlement with the European Union.

A Microsoft spokeswoman denied this. She said that all emails required to be preserved for legal reasons were retained and that more than a million documents had been produced by Microsoft in litigation, which has seen it pay out nearly $5bn in damages and fines.

The irony is that while U2 has a $2m shareholding in Burst, the group's lead singer, Bono, has been working with Mr Gates on various Third World and charitable initiatives.

"I don't suppose that Bill Gates is aware that his buddy Bono has an interest in this case," says Mr Lang.

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