Monday, November 19, 2007, 3:55 PM
Today the Fourth Circuit affirmed District Judge Motz's decision in GO Computer, Inc. v. Microsoft, an antitrust action. The suit alleged that Microsoft attempted to thwart GO's attempt to enter the PC operating system market and that Microsoft stole GO's technology. The claims date back some 20 years. The Fourth Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Wilkinson, agreed that the claims are barred by the four-year statute of limitations. The Court rejected GO's argument in support of tolling the statute of limitations. The Court reaffirmed that tolling by fraudulent concealment has no application if the plaintiff was on inquiry notice -- i.e., had notice of information which would've prompted a reasonable person to investigate. The Court rejected GO's argument that this due-diligence requirement doesn't apply unless the plaintiff could've discovered the full extent of the fraud: "Inquiry notice is triggered by evidence of the possibility of fraud, not by complete exposure of the alleged scam." The Court continued, "Fraud by its nature is something perpetrators take pains to disguise, and plaintiffs' notion that allegedly concealed fraud excuses the need for any diligence on plaintiffs' part would permit statutory periods to be tolled indefinitely, even when plaintiffs could reasonably be expected to bring suit."