Microsoft faces class-action lawsuits

Three lawyers have filed a class-action lawsuit against Microsoft on behalf of millions of the software vendor's customers in California. The suit is the latest to emerge since a US federal court judge determined earlier this month that Microsoft is a monopoly.

Today's lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court in San Francisco, accuses Microsoft of using its monopoly in the desktop PC software market to charge users an unfairly high price for its Windows operating system. The suit was filed on behalf of all users in California who bought a version of Windows 95 or Windows 98.

The lawsuit seeks treble financial damages for the plaintiffs. The suit doesn't put a dollar figure on those damages, but notes that the suit was filed on behalf of "millions of consumers or end users".

After Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson issued his findings of fact in the government's antitrust case against Microsoft earlier this month, some legal experts predicted his ruling that the software maker is a monopoly would lead to a barrage of additional lawsuits.

A Microsoft spokesman today said a class-action lawsuit similar to the California suit was filed last week in Louisiana, although he couldn't provide any specifics about the suit. Other private lawsuits seeking class-action status have already been filed in Orange County, California, New York and Birmingham, Alabama, according to an Associated Press report.

"We think it's very unfortunate for consumers and the economy that these kinds of groundless lawsuits are being threatened against a company that has driven prices down and given great value and innovation to consumers," said Microsoft spokesman Tom Pilla.

The lawsuits are "particularly ironic" considering that Windows 95 and Windows 98 cost less than, for example, IBM's OS/2 and Apple Computer's Macintosh operating system, according to Pilla.

Until a verdict is reached in the government's antitrust case against Microsoft, Judge Jackson's findings of fact can't be brought to bear in any of the private antitrust actions, according to Pilla. What's more, Microsoft has indicated that it will appeal any unfavourable ruling in that case, a process that could take years, Pilla noted.

The California suit filed today attaches Jackson's findings of fact as "Exhibit A," and refers to the judge's determination that Microsoft abused its monopoly power to the detriment of consumers.

A rash of private lawsuits would likely increase the incentive for Microsoft to settle its case with the US government, observers noted. The prospect of a settlement increased last week after Jackson appointed a moderator to the case in Washington.

The three lawyers who filed the California lawsuit -- Terry Gross and Francis Acarpulla of San Francisco, and Daniel Mogin of San Diego -- aren't newcomers to high-tech litigation. In 1997 the trio helped force a settlement in a case against Intel that accused the chip maker of spreading misleading data about the performance of its microprocessors, according to information on Gross' Web site.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?