Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Antitrust News: Free Stuff from Microsoft!

And so the pillaging begins. Attempting to exploit Microsoft's $1.1 billion settlement of a 1999 lawsuit bought on behalf of California consumers that claimed Microsoft violated the state's antitrust and unfair competition laws, San Diego-based has set up a special website it claims will facilitate an “instant settlement” of consumer's claims, gives away a free PC to the first 10,000 claims applicants and ever so conveniently, allows consumers to purchase Lindows software with their settlement proceeds. Reasons for joining in on the looting are offered in a Flash video on the settlement website:

First, you like free stuff. If you qualify, you get to go shopping and Microsoft picks up the tab. . .

Second, you can send Microsoft a strong message that it’s not alright to abuse their monopoly at the expense of you, the consumer. Microsoft will get back some of the $1.1 billion dollar settlement from any portion that goes unclaimed. Don’t let that happen. . .

Third, you can spur innovation by helping channel funds from Microsoft to some of the alternative technologies that are now available. Competition is always a good thing for consumers and the practices for which Microsoft was found guilty harmed competing companies and technologies, so even if you can’t use the products available to you at, by submitting your claim, you’ll be assisting several companies and organizations to compete with Microsoft, helping to bring balance to the marketplace and discouraging future abuses and overcharging of consumers by Microsoft.

And finally, fourth, perhaps you have a friend that would enjoy the products at You are welcome to make gift out of anything you purchase there using you instant settlement. . .
The video comes complete with an image of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates sitting on a pile of $100 dollar bills.

According to the Lindows website, Microsoft’s attorneys have sent Lindows CEO Michael Robertson a letter saying he is mischaracterizing the settlement and encouraging the public to submit fraudulent claims by using digital signatures instead of hand signing their claims forms.

Robertson responded in a letter back to Microsoft that reads in part:

Our plan is to continue to offer the MSfreePC service in spite of your threats. If required, we will be a voice in the courtroom defending a consumers rights (sic) to use technology and an online process to secure their settlement claims. I believe your company refers to this as the “right to innovate”.
Heh. The only innovation Robertson is engaged in is using antitrust to loot a commercial rival.

Of course, none of this is really a problem for Microsoft, since antitrust itself is wholesome law, and Microsoft has put antitrust behind them. But at this case indicates, that might not a wise strategy for a company that plans on long term success . . .

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