Judge Tosses 5 Consumer Suits Vs. Microsoft

Microsoft won a legal victory when a federal judge
decided to throw out five of the consumer antitrust suits filed against the
software company.

The case were filed in Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland and Oklahoma. U.S.
District Judge J. Frederick Motz ruled the suits were without merit, as laws
in those states don’t permit consumers to collect damages from Microsoft,
unless they purchased software directly from the company.

Nearly all consumers buy software through retail channels, or have Windows
and other Microsoft software programs pre-installed when they purchase
personal computers. Judge Motz concurred with earlier state court rulings,
which said that consumers cannot collect damages from indirect purchases of
software.

The ruling relates to several class action lawsuits filed against Microsoft
by consumers in the aftermath of the government’s antitrust case agains the
software company. The consumer class action suits allege consumers overpaid
for Windows software.

The consumer class action suits are separate from the government antitrust
suit against Microsoft. In that case, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly found
that Microsoft acted as an illegal monopoly based on its dominant position
in the desktop PC operating system market. Microsoft settled with the
government, but West Virginia and Massachusetts continue to appeal the
ruling.

Earlier this month, Microsoft agreed to pay up to $1.1 billion to computer
users in California, whole filed a class action lawsuit. And there are a
raft of other consumer class action lawsuits in courts around the country.

But it Judge Motz who is overseeing the bulk of the consumer class action
lawsuits against Microsoft, as well as other civil cases filed by several
companies, including Sun Microsystems and AOL Time
Warner , Be Incorporated and Burst.com.

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