Washington, Jan. 28 (Reuters): A federal judge on Monday granted a motion by Microsoft Corp. to throw out five of the consumer antitrust lawsuits filed against the company in four states.
US district judge J. Frederick Motz struck down lawsuits filed in Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland and Oklahoma, saying laws in those states do not allow consumers to collect damages from Microsoft unless they purchased software directly from the company.
Most consumers purchase Microsoft’s Windows operating system and its other software through retailers or get it pre-installed on the computers they buy.
In each of the cases dismissed on Monday, Motz said, state courts have ruled that so-called indirect purchasers cannot collect damages.
The cases are part of a slew of class-action lawsuits filed against Microsoft on behalf of consumers in the wake of the government’s landmark antitrust case against the company.
The judge is overseeing many of the consumer lawsuits, as well as civil cases filed by Sun Microsystems Inc., AOL Time Warner Inc. unit Netscape Communications, Be Incorporated and Burst.com.
In the class-action cases before Motz, the plaintiffs allege Microsoft abused its monopoly power to prevent competition in the market for personal computer operating systems, leveraged its Windows monopoly to obtain monopolies in the markets for word processing and spreadsheet software and used its monopoly positions in these markets to overcharge purchasers of Windows, Word, Excel and Office software.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in 2001, reviewed the government suit and agreed that Microsoft had illegally maintained its monopoly in the Windows computer operating system but rejected breaking the company in two to prevent future violations.
A settlement of the government suit was endorsed by US district judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in November, although Massachusetts and West Virginia are appealing.