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DowJones.com: The Microsoft Ruling: Fallout --And Now The Lawyers Begin To Circle Around

Nov 09, 1999, 18:53 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by David Bank, Lee Gomes, Nick Wingfield)

"Private antitrust lawyers and corporate general counsel are scouring a federal judge's scathing finding that Microsoft Corp. used its monopoly in personal-computer operating systems to hurt consumers and competitors, looking for opportunities to seek monetary damages from the software company. ...the prospect that others will pile on is considered a major incentive for Microsoft to settle the federal antitrust case..."

"The most obvious potential private antitrust case would appear to involve Netscape Communications Corp... America Online Inc. now owns Netscape's right to sue... one person close to AOL said a private suit on behalf of former Netscape shareholders might be an option for the company after a final outcome of the government's suit."

"The most lucrative legal opportunity may be on behalf of consumers. In his ruling, Judge Jackson said consumers may have paid more than they would have in a competitive market, citing a Microsoft study suggesting a possible price of $49 for an upgrade to Windows 98. The study identified $89 as the 'revenue-maximizing' price, and Microsoft opted for the higher price. 'It looks like a class action waiting to happen,' said the general counsel of one major software company, who spoke on the condition he not be identified.

Robert Hall, an economics professor at Stanford University who specializes in the arcane science of quantifying such damages, estimated the price of a copy of Windows 98 might have been $10 lower were it not for misconduct described in the findings. Multiplied by more than 100 million copies, and tripled, the damages in such a case could reach 'many billions,' he said."

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