Microsoft Corp., the world’s biggest software maker, reached an undisclosed settlement in a lawsuit claiming it used its monopoly position to overcharge Iowa consumers for software products including Windows and Word.
Microsoft reached the deal with a statewide class of consumers who had purchased Microsoft products since 1994. The plaintiffs claimed the company violated Iowa antitrust law to charge inflated prices by taking advantage of its monopolies in personal computer operating systems and software applications.
“I think everyone in the courtroom is a little stunned,” Roxanne Conlin, a lawyer for the consumers, told an Iowa state judge and jurors today in Des Moines after announcing the accord.
The settlement, which must be approved by the judge, ends a trial that began in December and resolves one of the last private antitrust cases Microsoft hasn’t settled or persuaded judges to dismiss. The Iowa customers claimed $329 million in damages, which could have been tripled under Iowa law.
Judge Scott Rosenberg ordered both sides to keep details of the settlement secret until they file papers formally asking him to grant initial approval of the settlement, expected in April. Similar cases that settled have provided class members with vouchers for discounted software.
Last of Dozens
The case, and a similar suit in Mississippi, are the last of dozens filed by groups of consumers following an antitrust case against Microsoft filed by the U.S. government and several states, including Iowa, in 1998.