Time Running Out on California Class-Action Settlement Case

The clock is ticking for California businesses and consumers to make claims in the largest of the class-action lawsuit settlement agreements resulting from the U.S. Department of Justice antitrust case against Microsoft.

Saturday will mark the 60-day deadline that Judge Paul Alvarado of California Superior Court in San Francisco gave customers to file claims when he issued his final approval for the $1.1 billion antitrust settlement. The lawsuit was filed in 1999 and the parties struck the deal in 2003.

The lead lawyer representing California consumers in the settlement fight, Richard L. Grossman, told The New York Times for Wednesday's edition that only a small percentage of eligible customers have filed to claim a share. However, Grossman said claims were flooding in as the deadline approached.

An estimated 14 million people and businesses are eligible to receive vouchers. Only about 620,000 claims were filed as of Dec. 28, Grossman said. However, those claims included filings by 80 of the 100 largest businesses in the state, and individual business claims can represent hundreds or thousands of licenses for Microsoft programs.

Anyone who bought Microsoft Windows, Word or Office in California from 1995 to 2001 is eligible for a voucher, which can be used to buy software from any manufacturer. The value of the vouchers is $5 for each copy of Word, $16 for each copy of Windows and $29 for each copy of Office. Consumers can file a claim for up to $100 in vouchers without showing a proof of purchase.

Two-thirds of the unclaimed amount will go to California schools for technology purchases.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.