Software // Enterprise Applications
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10/28/2003
02:43 PM
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Microsoft Settles Class-Action Suits With Five More States And D.C.

The settlements, worth $200 million, leave actions with five states unresolved.

Microsoft said Tuesday that it has reached settlements worth $200 million with five more states and the District of Columbia in its ongoing legal efforts to resolve class-action lawsuits.

A total of 14 states and the District of Columbia have filed class-action lawsuits against Microsoft, claiming that the company violated their antitrust and unfair-competition laws. Microsoft previously had announced settlements with six states, leaving only five--Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Wisconsin--unresolved.

The latest deals were with Kansas, the District of Columbia, North Carolina, Tennessee, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Financial details of the settlements were available only for those with Kansas and the District of Columbia, whose residents will share from a pot of vouchers with a face value of $32 million and $6.2 million, respectively.

When Microsoft settles a state's class-action lawsuit, a pot of vouchers is made available to the state's consumers. Those vouchers can be used for purchases of hardware and software--including, but not exclusive to, Microsoft's own operating systems and applications. Half of the unused vouchers are later handed over to the state's public school system, and as with the consumer vouchers, can be used to buy hardware and software.

Although Microsoft said it had settled with North Carolina, Tennessee, North Dakota, and South Dakota, it wasn't able to provide specific dollar amounts for each state, since the plans have not received preliminary approval from the courts.

"The six settlements announced today have an approximate face value of $200 million," said Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel. The remaining $160 million and change will be divided among the four states for which details haven't yet been disclosed, he said, in part according to their population.

But Microsoft still hasn't cleared the legal decks. Several major lawsuits are still pending, including one with Sun Microsystems and another with the European Union.

"I think we've passed the halfway point," Smith said, "but we certainly appreciate that important issues remain."

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