Thursday, February 09, 2006

Fourth Circuit issues class certification opinion in Microsoft anti-trust litigation

In Deiter v. Microsoft, the Fourth circuit affirmed a district court order certifying a class of consumers seeking damages against Microsoft Corporation allegedly caused by Microsoft's use of monopoly power to overcharge purchasers of Microsoft's Windows operating system software during the period between February 1999 and April 2003.

Plaintiffs Paul A. Deiter, Franklin L. DeJulius, and Gary L. Leach, who made their purchases on the Internet or by telephone during the class period, were appointed class representatives. The district court excluded from the class businesses who were direct purchasers of software from Microsoft through its "Enterprise Program" because these "Enterprise customers" purchased bundles of various Microsoft software in large volume and for negotiated prices. The court concluded that the representative parties' claims were not "typical" of the claims that the Enterprise customers might have.

The court concluded in the alternative that certifying a class consisting of both individuals and Enterprise customers would not be "superior" to other methods of proceeding with the Enterprise customers' potential claims.

The Fourth Circuit affirmed the order, noting that the district court did not err in concluding that the representative parties' claims are not typical of the claims of Microsoft's Enterprise customers.

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