1. Microsoft settles Florida class-action suits
By James Niccolai, IDG News Service
APRIL 16, 2003
Microsoft Corp. has agreed to pay up to $202 million to settle
class-action suits in Florida in which it was accused of violating the
state's antitrust and unfair competition laws by overcharging for its
The money will be distributed among consumers and businesses that bought
Microsoft's operating systems, productivity suite, spreadsheet or word
processing software between Nov. 16, 1995, and Dec. 31, 2002, for use in
Florida, the company said in a statement yesterday.
The settlement was filed yesterday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court and has been
given preliminary approval by Judge Henry H. Hamage. A hearing for final
approval of the deal was set for Nov. 24.
The terms require Microsoft to pay a maximum of $202 million, to be
distributed in the form of vouchers that can be used to buy a desktop,
laptop or tablet computer from any manufacturer, running any operating
system and software, the company said.
Microsoft will provide half of any settlement money that goes unclaimed to
needy public schools in Florida in the form of vouchers. Those vouchers
will also be good for computer equipment, software and training from any
manufacturer, the company said. About 1,600 Florida schools will be
eligible for the vouchers.
In January, Microsoft settled class-action lawsuits in California for $1.1
billion in a similarly structured deal (see story). Microsoft agreed to pay
two-thirds of the unclaimed money to California schools in that case. The
settlement took care of the lion's share of the private antitrust cases
pending against Microsoft, the company said at the time.
The private cases followed a federal court finding that Microsoft had
abused its monopoly status in the desktop operating systems market to the
detriment of consumers. A settlement in the federal case was reached late
Bill Piotrowski, executive director of Technology & Information Services
for Leon District Schools in Tallahassee, hailed the Florida deal in a
statement as "great news for schools all across Florida."
Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said the settlement allows Microsoft
to avoid "the cost and uncertainty of a lengthy trial" and to focus on the
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