Many Florida residents have received emails or postal mail explaining a potential settlement in a class-action suit against Microsoft on behalf of "Florida Purchasers of Microsoft MS-DOS, Windows, Office, Word or Excel Software, or a Personal Computer that Came with this Software." The upshot: Most of us will probably get vouchers worth $12 toward our next (retail) Linux distribution purchase, but the lawyers hope to get $48 million in fees. The entire text of the email is below. Make of it what you will.
THIS IS A LEGAL NOTICE THAT MAY PERTAIN TO YOU REGARDING THE MICROSOFT
PRODUCTS CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT IN FLORIDA. DO NOT REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE.
IT WAS SENT FROM AN AUTOMATED SYSTEM AND REPLIES WILL NOT BE ANSWERED.
Florida Purchasers of Microsoft MS-DOS,
Windows, Office, Word or Excel Software, or a
Personal Computer that Came with this Software
If you are located in Florida and purchased this Microsoft software, or a
personal computer that came with this software, between November 16, 1995 and
December 31, 2002, and are not a government entity, you may be a Class Member
entitled to benefits under a proposed class action settlement.
A hearing on a proposed settlement in a class action lawsuit, In re Florida
Microsoft Antitrust Litigation, No. 99-27340 CA II will be held on November
24, 2003 at 9:00 a.m. at the Miami-Dade County Courthouse, 73 West Flagler
St., Miami, Florida 33130. Class Members may receive settlement benefits (if
the settlement is approved) by obtaining and mailing a claim form to
Settlement Administrator, Microsoft Florida Claims, P.O. Box 3019, Portland,
OR 97208-3019, postmarked by December 24, 2003. This deadline may be
extended. Properly completed and timely submitted claim forms will entitle
Class Members to receive vouchers, which can then be redeemed for cash
rebates as described below.
What Is This Case About?
Plaintiff alleges that Microsoft unlawfully used anticompetitive means to
maintain a monopoly in markets for certain software, and that as a result, it
overcharged Florida consumers who licensed its MS-DOS, Windows, Word, Excel
and Office software. Microsoft denies plaintiff's allegations and believes
that it developed and sold high quality and innovative software products at
fair and reasonable prices.
What Does The Proposed Settlement Provide?
If the settlement is approved, Class Members will be eligible to receive a
total maximum amount of $202 million in vouchers, worth $5 for each license
for Microsoft MS-DOS, Windows versions 1.0 to 3.2, Windows NT Workstation,
Windows 2000 Professional, Word, Excel and Office software, and $12 for each
license for Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows Millennium Edition that Class
Members indirectly acquired in the United States between November 16, 1996
and December 31, 2002 for use in Florida. Claims for vouchers must be
postmarked by December 24, 2003. This deadline may be extended. Each Class
Member can redeem the vouchers issued to that Class Member for a cash rebate
for purchases, after April 15, 2003, of Qualifying Hardware (including
personal computers, Apple Macintosh computers, laptop computers and Tablet
PCs), or Qualifying Software (including most generally available software
made by any company for Qualifying Hardware), if mailed to the settlement
administrator with proof of purchase by December 24, 2007. In other words,
the vouchers are good for cash rebates on a wide variety of computer hardware
and software. Details are in the full class notice and the claim form. You
can obtain either from www.microsoftproductssettlement.com/florida or by
calling 1-888-748-8055. You must complete and mail a claim form to receive
Microsoft will donate to public schools in Florida with at least 50% of their
students qualifying for the federal free and reduced-price school lunch
programs, 50% of the difference between the total maximum amount of the
vouchers ($202 million) and the value of issued vouchers, if the settlement
If the Court approves the settlement, the Court will determine reasonable
attorneys' fees and expenses to be awarded to Class Counsel. The attorneys'
fees and expenses approved by the Court will be paid by Microsoft, and will
not reduce, in any way, the amount of Settlement Benefits paid to Class
Members. Class Counsel will seek attorneys' fees in an amount not to exceed
$48 million. At the time this Notice was published, there was no agreement
as to the amount Class Counsel will be paid. The Court must approve the
amount paid to Class Counsel.
After the hearing on November 24, the Court will decide whether the proposed
settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate, and determine attorneys' fees
and expenses to be awarded to class counsel. The judgment of the Court
(whether favorable or unfavorable) will bind all Class Members who do not
request exclusion. If you do not request exclusion, you may object in writing
or hire your own lawyer to object or appear for you. If you wish to object to
the Settlement or the attorneys fees or appear at the hearing, you must file
with the Court and serve on the parties a written statement of your objection
or intention to appear, documentary proof that you are a class member, your
basis for objecting or appearing, and all papers in support of your objection
or appearance by November 4, 2003.
All papers filed in this case may be inspected at the Clerk's Office,
Miami-Dade County Courthouse, 73 West Flagler Street, Miami, Florida 33130,
during business hours.
Can I Opt Out of the Proposed Settlement?
In exchange for Microsoft's agreement to provide settlement benefits, claims
you have against Microsoft may be settled and released if you do not opt out
under the settlement agreement, class members agree to settle and release all
claims, demands, actions, suits, and causes of action against Microsoft
and/or its directors, officers, employees, attorneys, insurers or agents,
whether known or unknown, asserted or unasserted, that any member of the
Florida Settlement Class ever had, could have had, now has or hereafter can,
shall or may have, relating in any way to:
- Any conduct, act or omission that was or could have been alleged in this
case as the basis for any antitrust or unfair competition claims; or
- The purchase, use and/or acquisition of a license for a Microsoft
Operating System and/or Microsoft Application and arising under or related to
laws concerning or related to antitrust (including, without limitation, the
Sherman Antitrust Act), unfair competition, unfair practices, consumer
protection, price discrimination, unconscionable or unfair pricing, trade
regulation, trade practices, Florida Statute ÃÂ§ 501.201 et seq.; or other
federal or state law, regulation, or common law similar or analogous to any
of the above; or claims under the Uniform Commercial Code which relate to
unfair competition, unfair practices, consumer protection, price
discrimination, unconscionable or unfair pricing, trade regulation or trade
practices. The settled and released claims are described in the full class
notice, which you can obtain from www.microsoftproductssettlement.com/florida
or by calling 1-888-748-8055.
The release does not include claims relating to Microsoft's conduct, acts or
omissions that take place after December 31, 2002. However, class members
release any and all claims described above relating to Microsoft's conduct,
acts or omissions that occurred on or before December 31, 2002.
Class Members who do not want to participate may exclude themselves from the
class by (1) mailing to the Settlement Administrator a signed letter asking
to be excluded with your name, address and telephone number, or (2)
obtaining, completing and mailing an opt-out form. You can obtain an opt-out
form from www.microsoftproductssettlement.com/florida or by calling
1-888-748-8055. If you mail an opt-out form or a letter requesting exclusion
postmarked by October 13, 2003 to Microsoft Florida Claims Exclusions, P.O.
Box 3369, Portland, OR 97208-3369, you will no longer be a Class Member, will
not receive any settlement benefits, and will not be bound by the settlement
or the Court's action in this case.
DO NOT CALL THE COURT REGARDING THIS NOTICE.
By order of the Court on July 24, 2003.
Henry H. Harnage, Circuit Court Judge
For more information, write to:
Microsoft Florida Settlement
P.O. Box 3019, Portland, OR 97208-3019
or call 1-888-748-8055