Microsoft Corp. is currently in talks with Apple Computer Inc. to avoid a challenge to its proposed $1.1 billion antitrust settlement in California, reports
. Apple responded to the proposed settlement on January 13, 2003 saying it didn’t go far enough.
Under the terms of the settlement, Microsoft will offer vouchers, ranging in amount from US$4 to $29, to California customers who purchased Microsoft software between Feb. 18, 1995, and Dec. 15, 2001. Two-thirds of the amount not claimed by individuals will be donated to 4,700 of California’s neediest schools, according to Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel, and Eugene Crew, lead counsel for Townsend and Townsend and Crew LLP, the San Francisco firm that brought the suit nearly four years ago.
One-third of the value of the unclaimed vouchers reverts to Microsoft, which maintains no admission of fault or any violation of the law in the matter. Microsoft’s attorneys pointed out that in many class action cases, all unclaimed damages revert to the defendant.
“Apple strongly believes that Microsoft should make the entire pool of unclaimed voucher funds available to our schools to purchase any technology products that best meet their needs,” said Apple’s statement. “Microsoft should not be allowed to recoup one third of the unclaimed voucher funds and should not be allowed to dictate which technology our schools choose to buy with these funds. Remember — this is a settlement imposed against Microsoft for breaking the law, and it should not allow them to unfairly compete in education — one of the few remaining markets where they don’t have monopoly power.”
Microsoft and Apple have held meetings to discuss Apple’s complaints, according to Microsoft and Eugene Crew, a lawyer who represents plaintiffs in the antitrust suits.
“The school decides what it wants. There’s no incentive one way or another” for schools to choose the software or cash. How to “ameliorate any concern Apple has depends on what Apple wants and how flexible Microsoft is,” Crew said.
Microsoft says the settlement is “competitively neutral.”