On Monday, a Nevada judge handed Microsoft Corporation its second victory against antitrust-related class action lawsuits when he threw out a suit alleging that the company had overcharged consumers for Windows 98. In an action that was reminiscent of a similar decision in Oregon last week, Judge Gene Porter of the Clark County District Court in Las Vegas granted Microsoft's motion to dismiss the case, stating that the company was protected by law against class action lawsuits of this nature because it did not sell products directly to consumers. Microsoft has no direct sales operation, relying instead on PC makers and retail outlets to distribute and sell its products to consumers. Microsoft has 135 similar class action lawsuits that it needs to deal with, but the company says that its recent victories bode well for the future.
"We believe this is good sign and important momentum to sort of putting these issues to rest,'' said a Microsoft spokesperson. "We certainly think it's going to affect a good number of these \[remaining\] cases."
Microsoft faces so many class action lawsuits because of the various rulings against the company in its landmark antitrust trial with the U.S. government. The release in November of the Findings of Fact initiated a run of filings against the company, which hoped to link themselves to Microsoft's legal woes. But the company says that U.S. laws designed to prevent frivolous lawsuits will protect it, and the first two rulings certainly seem to bear this out