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CNET News.com: Microsoft ditches two more private lawsuits

Aug 22, 2000, 14:35 (8 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Joe Wilcox)


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Microsoft may have lost the initial round in its federal antitrust case, but the software giant today scored two more victories in private lawsuits. The count is now 7-0 in favor of Microsoft. Rhode Island and Texas threw out cases alleging that Microsoft overcharged consumers for copies of Windows 95 and 98. Courts in Hawaii, Iowa and Kentucky threw out cases last month, following Microsoft victories in Oregon and Nevada."

"Microsoft's exposure in the approximately 130 remaining antitrust suits is potentially more than $7 billion, according to a formula developed by Robert Hall, an economist with the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. But Microsoft's liability could be more than three times that when accounting for the breadth of the violations. That sum could grow if more companies that bought Windows 95 or 98 directly or that Jackson found to have been wronged by Microsoft sue the software maker, said Bill Kovacic, a professor at the George Washington University School of Law."

"Microsoft's success has been in getting judges to dismiss the cases not on their merits, but on a technicality: a 1977 U.S. Supreme Court ruling known as Illinois Brick. Based on the precedent, which protects antitrust violators from being sued by multiple parties for a single wrongdoing, only parties who directly bought a product can file lawsuits in federal and most state courts. Because Microsoft sold the bulk of Windows 95 and 98 copies to PC makers and retailers and not consumers, most people cannot sue Microsoft directly."

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