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Microsofted Up

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for Microsoft and Best Buy Co. to be sued under a law originally created to help federal prosecutors bring down the mafia. The ruling stems from a class-action civil lawsuit by a northern California man, James Odom. He bought a laptop at Best Buy in 2003 that included a six-month MSN trial CD. Odom's attorneys allege that Best Buy signed Odom up for an MSN account with the credit card Odom used to pay for the computer, and Microsoft began charging him for the MSN service six months later. The lawsuit is filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

Perhaps the most eye-popping element comes from a friend-of-the court filing by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. According to the Chamber, RICO is getting out of control as a device against business. It has been used in more than 4,500 cases since 2001, with only 35 of those cases filed by the government, by the Chamber's count.

Meanwhile, arguments by Microsoft and Best Buy attorneys indicated that the companies weren't thrilled about "the reputational injury" of being sued under a law "associated with racketeers and mobsters," according to the news article about the case. You can find out more here.

Posted by Scott Bekker on October 16, 2007 at 11:57 AM


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