Microsoft Settles Iowa Class Action Suit

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Microsoft Settles Iowa Class Action Suit
by Paul Thurrott, thurrott@windowsitpro.com

On Wednesday, Microsoft reached a preliminary settlement in its Iowa class-action antitrust lawsuit. The settlement is still pending court approval, however, and the terms won't be released until later this year. The Iowa plaintiffs had been seeking $330 million from Microsoft.

When the case was filed in 2000, plaintiffs alleged that Microsoft had overcharged Iowa customers for software purchased since 1994. Microsoft has faced nearly 100 other state-based antitrust cases over the years, but despite similarities, the Iowa case differs from all but one other case in a key way: It actually went all the way to trial. A class-action suit in Minnesota also went to trial but was settled two months after the trial began. All the other state-based suits against Microsoft were dismissed or settled prior to trial.

As with most of the other state-based cases Microsoft has settled, partial proceeds from the Iowa settlement will be used to purchase computers and software for underprivileged schools: Half of any unclaimed funds will be provided to the Iowa Department of Education for this purpose.

"One of the best aspects of resolving this case is that we can provide much needed resources to underprivileged schools," said Microsoft Associate General Counsel Rich Wallis. "We're happy to have this matter behind us so we can focus on the future and build the next generation of products and innovations that enrich the lives of people around the world."

Polk County District Court will hold a hearing in April for preliminary approval of the settlement. If approved, the settlement will be finalized in late August.

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