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Micro Technology Files Countersuit Against Digital : Competition: Anaheim firm’s legal action alleges that computer giant is trying to monopolize market.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Micro Technology Inc. countersued Digital Equipment Corp. on Wednesday, alleging that the Massachusetts computer giant is suing its competitors to monopolize a $350-million segment of the computer storage products market.

Micro Technology’s antitrust suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, alleges that a patent suit filed by Digital in June is an attempt to use “litigation as a marketing tool to restrict competition” and gain control of the market for computer peripheral equipment.

“It’s time to stop Digital’s use of strong-arm tactics to inhibit competition and limit customer options,” Steven J. Hamerslag, Micro Technology’s chief executive, said in a statement.

A Digital spokeswoman declined immediate comment on Micro Technology’s action. Digital’s suit says Micro Technology illegally infringed on four Digital patents that protect the way that storage devices such as disk drives are linked to a cluster of computers.

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Micro Technology’s suit comes one day after Digital sued Emulex Corp., a Costa Mesa computer parts maker, for infringing on the same set of patents. Emulex denied the charges but declined to comment on whether it would file its own countersuit.

Since 1989, 11 companies have agreed to Digital’s demands to phase out any infringing products by the end of 1992. Digital also has a pending suit against Lago Systems Inc. in Los Gatos, Calif..

The Micro Technology suit contends that Digital has produced electrical circuitry for its computers that are not standard and that it has refused to provide competing manufacturers with technical information.

Micro Technology also says Digital’s patent suits are part of an “unlawful scheme to maintain its monopoly” of the manufacture and sale of peripheral equipment.

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The complaint further alleges that Digital has given peripherals away to customers or sold them at below-cost prices to monopolize the market. Digital, the suit charges, has employed “deceptive tactics,” including trade libel and slander, to block the sale of Digital-compatible equipment to Micro Technology customers.

The Micro Technology suit seeks unspecified damages and legal costs. It also asks the court to bar Digital from continuing its alleged anti-competitive practices.


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