US state files fresh lawsuit at Microsoft

The US state of West Virginia has slapped Microsoft with yet another lawsuit, alleging that the software giant violated the...

The US state of West Virginia has slapped Microsoft with yet another lawsuit, alleging that the software giant violated the state's antitrust and consumer-protection laws.

West Virginia is one of nine states that refused to join a settlement in November in the US Government's antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. The state claims Microsoft used its monopoly power in the PC operating systems market to set anti-competitive pricing policies, among other things.

West Virginia filed the lawsuit against the software maker in the Circuit Court of Boone County on 3 November, calling for unspecified damages and sanctions against Microsoft on behalf of the state's consumers and agencies.

Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said attorneys representing the company had not yet reviewed the case, and therefore had no official comment to make.

However, he said: "We believe that we have reached a fair and reasonable settlement with the Department of Justice, and we have believed all along that our customers receive great products at low prices."

West Virginia alleges Microsoft "willfully and flagrantly maintained its monopoly power" by imposing anti-competitive pricing policies.

Many of the state's claims are based on a ruling made by US District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson that Microsoft engaged in illegal monopoly behaviour. Judge Jackson made the ruling last year in the US Government's antitrust case against the software maker.

West Virginia claims Microsoft was able to overcharge state end-users for its Windows 98 operating system because of its monopoly. Furthermore, the state alleges the company used its operating system dominance to give away its Internet Explorer browser, in an attempt to win the browser war over rival Netscape.

The lawsuit also alleges Microsoft violated state consumer protection laws by engaging in "unfair or deceptive acts and practices", and "excluding competition or controlling, fixing or maintaining prices".

Read more on IT legislation and regulation

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