Net greeting card firm sues Microsoft

Blue Mountain Arts, an American electronic greeting card company, is suing Microsoft on charges that the software giant is out to destroy the company's business.

In a lawsuit dated Tuesday last week and filed in California Superior Court, Blue Mountain alleges that Microsoft set up a competing electronic greeting card Internet site and late last month distributed a trial version of its Internet Explorer software that includes an e-mail filter that sends Blue Mountain cards into a junk mail folder rather than to the intended recipient.

As an added twist to the suit, Blue Mountain has hired Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati to represent it in the case. Gary Reback, an attorney with the law firm is a well-known, long-time Microsoft nemesis.

The lawsuit alleges that the actions against Blue Mountain are part of a pattern of unfair behaviour to stamp out companies that compete with Microsoft. But Microsoft spokesman Tom Pilla said today that the e-mail filter not only routes Blue Mountain cards to a junk mail folder, but also electronic greetings sent by Microsoft, as well as other messages that the software believes to be unsolicited commercial mail, commonly called "spam."

"This is a classic example of a frivolous suit spurred on by a long-time Microsoft detractor," Pilla said.

The e-mail filter has to be activated by users, he added, and rather than blocking Blue Mountain's electronic cards or sending them into a junk mail folder controlled by Microsoft, routes the messages into a junk mail folder kept on the user's computer. The messages still can be read by the user, he said.

Blue Mountain contacted Microsoft a few weeks ago regarding concerns over the filter and Pilla said that Microsoft agreed to work with the greeting card company so that messages coming from the firm could be modified so as not to wind up in junk mail folders. However, when Microsoft officials later contacted Blue Mountain, the calls were not returned, Pilla said.

A Blue Mountain official could not be reached to comment.