Microsoft Raises Bar in Lindows.com Dispute

 
 
By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2003-11-10
 
 
 
Microsoft Corp. is seeking the rejection of consumer claims filed through a Lindows.com 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 MSfreePC.com site that desktop Linux vendor Lindows.com created in September.

The court motion is the latest move in an ongoing dispute between Microsoft and Lindows.com over the site, which Lindows.com 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 Lindows.com 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 MSfreePC.com 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 MSfreePC.com 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 Lindows.com in order to receive access to software in violation of the settlement agreements rules.

Lindows.com defended its MSfreePC.com site on Monday, saying that it meets the "letter and the spirit of the antitrust settlement."

Lindows.com 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. Lindows.com plans to submit a rebuttal to Microsofts motion within the next two weeks.

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

Rocket Fuel