Microsoft Agrees to Settle Antitrust Lawsuits

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Microsoft will distribute vouchers valuing $37.8 million to Arkansas and $224 million to Wisconsin as part of two proposed class-action lawsuit settlements. The vouchers will be redeemable by residents of the respective states to obtain free software and hardware.

According to the proposed agreements, any Arkansas resident who purchased Microsoft Office software between 1998 and 2004, as well as any Wisconsin resident purchasing the software between 1993 and 2003, would be eligible to receive benefits from the settlement.

The lawsuits alleged that Microsoft unlawfully used anticompetitive means to maintain a monopoly in markets for certain software, and that as a result, it overcharged Arkansas and Wisconsin consumers who licensed its MS-DOS, Windows, Word, Excel and Office software.

Microsoft continues in its claim that the company did not infringe upon antitrust and consumer protection regulations for either state, and maintains that the proposed settlement agreements do not constitute any admission of wrongdoing.

Anyone wishing to join the class-action group can send in a claim form to ask for benefits, or they can ask to be excluded from, or object to, the settlement agreement.

Also, a website will be set up where notices, claim forms, and the settlement agreement can be obtained by residents of both states.

The dilemma of antitrust has long been a bane of Microsoft, bringing with it a myriad of legal woes.

The Redmond-based software giant has been reaching deep into its pockets in recent years to resolve these types of cases. The company settled similar lawsuits with Arizona in 2004 for $104.6 million and California for $1.1 billion in 2003.

Microsoft, however, may not have to contend with issues of antitrust and monopoly much longer should Google’s office suite, Docs & Spreadsheets, gain a foothold in the market.

But is that scenario good news, or bad news for Microsoft?

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Joe is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.

Microsoft Agrees to Settle Antitrust Lawsuits
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