Thursday, June 28, 2007

More Microsoft antitrust suit insanity

According to the Onalaska Life Newspaper, millions of dollars worth of vouchers that were part of Microsoft's settlement of a Wisconsin class-action antitrust case remain unclaimed.

The settlement requires Microsoft to make available to class members up to $223,896,000 in vouchers that may be used to purchase new desktop computers, laptops, tablet computers, pre-packaged software, printers, scanners, monitors, keyboards and pointing devices. Those products can be from any manufacturer, not just Microsoft.

Under the terms of the settlement, consumers, businesses and Wisconsin state and local governments who purchased Microsoft Windows, Word, Excel, Office, MS-DOS, Works Suite or Home Essentials, or a computer with any of those products pre-installed, between Dec. 7, 1993, and April 30, 2003, for use in Wisconsin is eligible to submit a claim for benefits.

[. . .]

To date, Wisconsin class members have submitted approximately 54,000 claim forms; of those, approximately 4,000 were filed online at the court-approved settlement Web site,
So as part of its settlement, Microsoft gives free money to any of its Wisconsin customers who declare that they purchased a Microsoft product between 1993 and 2003, yet there are only 54,000 takers and millions of dollars of the settlement money remains unclaimed. Apparently the vast majority of Microsoft's Wisconsin customers do not feel themselves misused enough by the company to collect their vouchers.

Lest you think there is a silver lining in all of this, under the terms of the settlement, half of the uncollected settlement money will be given to the Wisconsin public schools. Furthermore, the class action attorneys will get their piece of Microsoft's pie as well; as to be expected, under the terms of the settlement, Microsoft has agreed to pay their fees to the tune of $33 million dollars, plus costs, expenses and a $5,000-a-person bounty to the named members of the class.

I have to admire just how lucrative the antitrust racket can be. Manufacture an injury under the antitrust laws, create a class (however lethargic and unresponsive) and simply stand by to cash in. Why would anyone even bother defend the rights of businessmen when the real money is made in looting them--and the businessmen go along with it?

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