Judge Tosses 5 Consumer Suits Vs. Microsoft

Microsoft won a legal victory when a federal judge decided to throw out five of the consumer antitrust suits filed against the software company.

The case were filed in Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland and Oklahoma. U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz ruled the suits were without merit, as laws in those states don’t permit consumers to collect damages from Microsoft, unless they purchased software directly from the company.

Nearly all consumers buy software through retail channels, or have Windows and other Microsoft software programs pre-installed when they purchase personal computers. Judge Motz concurred with earlier state court rulings, which said that consumers cannot collect damages from indirect purchases of software.

The ruling relates to several class action lawsuits filed against Microsoft by consumers in the aftermath of the government’s antitrust case agains the software company. The consumer class action suits allege consumers overpaid for Windows software.

The consumer class action suits are separate from the government antitrust suit against Microsoft. In that case, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly found that Microsoft acted as an illegal monopoly based on its dominant position in the desktop PC operating system market. Microsoft settled with the government, but West Virginia and Massachusetts continue to appeal the ruling.

Earlier this month, Microsoft agreed to pay up to $1.1 billion to computer users in California, whole filed a class action lawsuit. And there are a raft of other consumer class action lawsuits in courts around the country.

But it Judge Motz who is overseeing the bulk of the consumer class action lawsuits against Microsoft, as well as other civil cases filed by several companies, including Sun Microsystems and AOL Time Warner , Be Incorporated and Burst.com.