Microsoft has been notably successful in cheaply settling antitrust lawsuits in US states by offering settlements involving coupons or vouchers good on Microsoft products. That isn’t working in Iowa:
One of the last remaining consumer class-action antitrust lawsuits filed against Microsoft Corp. in a state court is set to go to trial in November, and the company’s co-founder and chairman is on the witness list to testify.
That doesn’t mean Bill Gates will end up in the witness chair in Polk County District Court defending his company’s business plan, but it’s a possibility.
The lawsuit against Microsoft has made its way to the Iowa Supreme Court three times and unlike those in most states, which have been either settled or dismissed, it is scheduled for trial on Nov. 13.
Attorneys expect the trial to last six months.
Des Moines attorney Roxanne Conlin said Tuesday her experts have estimated that individuals and businesses have been overcharged as much as $453 million for Microsoft products in the last 12 years because a lack of competition has inflated the cost of the company’s products.
And here’s the rub:
One of the reasons Iowa continues to fight Microsoft in court is that Conlin has refused to accept a settlement in which Microsoft would offer vouchers for computer products.
“I don’t think Iowans want coupons,” she said. “I think if they were charged too much money and that’s what a jury decides, then they should get their money back, not a coupon.”
Of course, there’s no predicting how it will turn out, but funny money may not be good enough this time.