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Microsoft Sued Over Mouse

December 16, 1998

MARSHALL, Texas (AP) _ A Southern California computer hardware company has sued Microsoft Corp. in federal court for alleged copyright infringement and stealing the trade secrets for an ergonomic mouse.

Microsoft’s Intellimouse Pro is a knockoff of the Goldtouch Mouse made by Irvine, Calif.-based Goldtouch Technologies Inc., and was made after officials from both companies had discussed the design, the lawsuit said.

The suit alleges misappropriation of trade secrets, U.S. Patent infringement, fraud and conversion, and asks for a jury trial and unspecified treble damages ``because of the willful nature of Microsoft’s infringements.″

The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, said lawyers for Goldtouch. The company was founded in Texas and has an Austin office.

Messages left after business hours Tuesday for Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft were not immediately returned.

San Antonio lawyer R. Laurence Macon, who is representing Goldtouch, was traveling and was not immediately available for comment, said Goldtouch spokeswoman Julie Fahn in Irvine.

The lawsuit said that in early 1995, Goldtouch invented a computer pointing device, the so-called mouse, that minimizes the risk of repetitive stress injury. In September 1997, Goldtouch representatives met with Microsoft representatives to discuss the design.

After the meeting, ``Microsoft professed to be completely uninterested in the Goldtouch mouse and led Goldtouch to believe that Microsoft was entirely satisfied with its existing mouse designs,″ the lawsuit stated.

``Despite these representations,″ the lawsuit said, ``only about one year later, Microsoft introduced its own ergonomic mouse, the Intellimouse Pro.″

The Intellimouse Pro debuted this past spring.

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