Microsoft Sued by California Local Governments

Microsoft Corp has been sued by California cities and counties that are accusing the Redmond, Washington-based software giant of illegally charging inflated prices for its products as a result of a monopoly control it held on the personal computer operating systems market.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in San Francisco Superior Court, comes on the heels of similar suits brought against Microsoft across the country. Plaintiffs in this case include the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Joining the cities were the counties of Santa Clara, San Mateo, Contra Costa and Los Angeles.

The complaint, which seeks and unspecified amount of damages, represents government entities seeking to recover some of the money the municipalities spent on Windows, Word and Excel programs between 1995 and 2001.

The local governments are asking a judge to make the case a class action on behalf of all California cities and counties.

If a judge approves the lawsuit as a class action and Microsoft is found liable, the company could be legally responsible for many millions, perhaps billions of dollars.

Dennis Herrera, San Francisco’s city lawyer commented, “When it became clear that governmental entities were going to be excluded from the consumer class action, it was incumbent on all of us to do whatever possible to protect our various municipalities.”

Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake stated “We value our relationship with these cities and have been grateful for the opportunity to provide them with software at very reasonable prices.” She added that the company could comment further after lawyers reviewed the claims in the suit.

Last year Microsoft agreed to pay $1.8 billion to settle similar lawsuits brought by consumers and businesses, including $1.1 billion in California.

That settlement, however, which Microsoft will pay in the form of vouchers redeemable for computer-related equipment, did not include governments.

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