Iowa approves $180 million class action settlement against Microsoft

At the end of August, an Iowa district court approved a $180 million settlement against Microsoft in an anti-trust class action suit.

The Iowa claim alleged the company had used its monopoly position to overcharge consumers for its Windows and Office programs. Under the settlement, Iowa residents who bought Microsoft software between May 1994 and June 2006 will be entitled to refunds in the form of cash or vouchers they can spend on new Microsoft products or PCs.

Word users will get $10 back per license, while each Excel user will be entitled to $25. The settlement also provides $16 for each Microsoft Windows and MS-DOS license, and $29 for each Microsoft Office license. Microsoft will give half of any unclaimed settlement money to Iowa public schools.

Claimants have until December 14th, 2007 to file for a refund, according to the state's official claim site, www.iowamicrosoftcase.com. More than 60,000 individuals, businesses and public bodies have already registered.

Iowa is one of 19 American states to have filed such a claim in the wake of a 2002 case brought by the US department of Justice. The European Union also fined the company 497 million euros in 2005 for anti-competition violations.

The U.S. Department of Justice sanctions are due to expire in November, and the department has come under fire from legal officials in seven states who fear that Microsoft will still be in a position to squeeze out competition, according to report on Out-law.com.

"The remedies negotiated by the Department of Justice, and imposed by the court, have had little or no discernible success in restoring a competitive marketplace," claimed Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

In a recent report on the federal Microsoft settlement, the Department of Justice disagreed, and argued the software market had become more competitive.

Since the 2002 settlement, the DoJ said, "There have been a number of developments in the competitive landscape relating to middleware and to PC operating systems generally that suggest that the Final Judgments are accomplishing their stated goal of fostering competitive conditions among middleware products, unimpeded by anticompetitive exclusionary obstacles erected by Microsoft."

Reprinted from our sister site, AccountingWEB.co.uk

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