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MS beats rap in private lawsuit – only 136 to go

Jury still out (actually, not there at all) on Windows overpricing issue

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Microsoft has beaten the rap in one of the stack of private lawsuits being brought against it. An Oregon judge's ruling that consumers couldn't sue Microsoft for overpricing Windows means that the number of lawsuits pending is now reduced to, er, 136.

Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan was naturally cock-a-hoop about the ruling, saying: "I think the court recognised that these are simply efforts by plaintiffs' attorneys to go after a successful company and nothing more." This however doesn't seem to be quite how the judge put it.

Judge John Wittmayer said he simply followed a Supreme Court ruling which said that consumers cannot sue a company under antitrust laws if they didn't buy the product directly from that company. So if you you got your copy of Windows preinstalled on your PC, or if you bought it from a store, then you can't sue Microsoft.

Which of course means that the judge didn't need to go as far as deciding whether or not Microsoft overpriced Windows.

Still, if you happened to buy your Windows from the company store in Redmond, or you got it direct from Microsoft, then you might still be able to sue in Oregon. Some US states do allow consumers to sue even if the product is bought through an intermediary, so actions can still be brought in these, and the Oregon plaintiffs may appeal.

Meanwhile, in a largely unrelated matter, we can't resist bringing you the opening of a Reuters trial bulletin from yesterday: "SEATTLE (Reuters) - Software titan Microsoft Corp. said Wednesday it would formally file early next week its objections to the rust breakup order against it directly to the Sustice Department's motion that the case detour ly" It's been a long trial, and it's starting to show... ®

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