Monopoly ruling prompts secondary suits

Monopoly ruling prompts secondary suits

And so it starts. At least two antitrust lawsuits were filed against Microsoft after a federal judge called the vendor a predatory monopolist early this month.

In a federal suit, Blaine Cox, a PC user in Alabama, claimed he and other consumers were overcharged anywhere from $US10 to $40 every time they bought Microsoft software. Cox wants that money back as well as treble damages.

The figures are based on an internal study Microsoft did to figure out how to price Windows. The study, which US District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson cited in his November 5 ruling, said Microsoft could charge $49; it ultimately charged $89.

What prompted the suit? "The ruling, of course," said Bob Roden, Cox's lawyer from Shelby & Cartee LLC in Birmingham.

Seastrom Associates, a New York advertising company, also filed an antitrust suit against Microsoft just days after Jackson's unfavourable ruling. Seastrom, which is seeking to have other companies and individuals join it in a class action, claimed that Microsoft has consistently overcharged for Windows.

Roden hopes to turn Cox's suit into a class action and said he's had calls from other consumers, though none have joined Cox yet. He may file a motion to consolidate the suit with the one in New York and a similar one filed several months ago in California. "This thing will last quite some time," he said.

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