Microsoft Raises Bar in Dispute

Software giant asks court to block claims in California antitrust settlement filed through a site.

Microsoft Corp. is seeking the rejection of consumer claims filed through a Inc. Web site in a California antitrust lawsuit settlement, arguing the claims dont meet the requirements of the settlement agreement.

The Redmond, Wash., software maker filed a motion earlier this month asking San Francisco Superior Court Judge Paul H. Alvarado to resolve a dispute over whether to accept claims submitted through the site that desktop Linux vendor created in September.

The court motion is the latest move in an ongoing dispute between Microsoft and over the site, which has promoted as a faster way for California consumers to receive benefits from the $1.1 billion settlement reached in January. The two companies traded jabs in September after Microsoft threatened to take action if did not take down the site or address concerns about its approach.

As part of the California settlement, consumers who purchased Microsoft products between Feb. 18, 1995, and Dec. 15, 2001, can apply to receive vouchers for refunds on future purchases computer products and software after filling out a series of forms. The site prompts consumers to answer a series of questions to see if they qualify for a portion of the settlement. If they do, they then can access the Lindows desktop Linux operating system and other software that competes with the Microsoft platform.

Microsoft, in its latest court motion, wants any claims from to be rejected because it says the antitrust settlement requires consumers to physically sign claims forms, while the site only requires a digital signature. Microsoft also says that consumers must essentially transfer their claims to in order to receive access to software in violation of the settlement agreements rules. defended its site on Monday, saying that it meets the "letter and the spirit of the antitrust settlement." CEO Michael Robertson, in a statement, criticized Microsoft for using digital signatures itself while disputing their validity in the antitrust settlement and said that Microsofts actions are an attempt to reduce the amount its pays out. plans to submit a rebuttal to Microsofts motion within the next two weeks.

Along with the rejection of claims from, Microsoft also wants the administrator of settlement claims to tell consumers that the site is not authorized and point them to the official settlement Web site,, and to mail the paper claim forms to any consumers whose claims are rejected in the dispute.