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Court Rejects msfreepc.com Settlement Claims 226

Posted by michael
from the denied dept.
mr_tommy writes "Neowin has posted a link to a court ruling (pdf) on the controversial MSfreepc.com website. The court ruled that claims in the Microsoft antitrust settlement made via the site were not legitimate, and as such all submissions made through it would be rejected. The website, operated by Lindows.com, attempted to use the Californian settlement against Microsoft to its own benefit by getting users to signup and make a claim. Lindows saw an opportunity to capitalise on the ruling by getting Microsoft to pay for users to have Lindows software and hardware; undoubtedly too bitter a pill for Microsoft to take. Microsoft filed suit against the website Michael Robertson, owner of Lindows and a strong anti-Microsoft voice, will undoubtedly be disappointed with the ruling. The 'legitimate' site for claims is still available."
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Court Rejects msfreepc.com Settlement Claims

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  • Serves them right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Moth7 (699815) <mike...brownbill@@@gmail...com> on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:20PM (#7933619) Journal
    Frankly it was an underhanded act which is on a parallel with some microsoft have made in the past. Had they used the site to inform users of the process they could go through, then all would be fine and dandy. However, actively leveraging a misdemeanour by another company to gain a competitive advantage in a way such as that just wasn't on.
  • was it too much? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:21PM (#7933621)
    for robertson to funnel claims through his site to ms's transparently?
  • by brasten (699342) on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:24PM (#7933669)
    Was it slightly underhanded? Sure... but, I'm sure the hardware they gave away was contingent on their claims being accepted (correct me if I'm wrong)... otherwise, they give out a little free software (not that expensive to Lindows.com to do so), got their name out a bit... Can't see this HARMING them all that much... Now, if they start asking for their software back over it, that could be a bad thing... Let people keep their LindowsOS', consider it a marketing cost...
  • by zumbojo (615389) on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:25PM (#7933676) Homepage
    The fairness of an open market goes out the window when a company is forced to fund its competitor. What if RedHat had to pay for every Windows machine shipped?
  • Open Market (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Moth7 (699815) <mike...brownbill@@@gmail...com> on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:30PM (#7933717) Journal
    If RedHat had to pay for every Windows machine shipped, hell would be getting kind of cold ;) But seriously. No one can be forced to fund a competitor's product - it's not financially different from if Joe Public used the payout money to buy LindowsOS (Can we call it that anymore after the other suit?) from a vendor rather than through MSFreePC. But honestly, who said things were going to be fair? Bear in mind that the money is coming from an anti-trust settlement here. Although Lindows did act irresponsibly, MS can hardly start complaining about bad business practice.
  • by w3weasel (656289) on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:31PM (#7933731) Homepage
    However, actively leveraging a misdemeanour...

    Misdemeanour??

    Abuse of monopoly power is a far sight more serious than a misdemeanor.

    Still though, Lindows was pretty clearly attempting to abuse the ruling

  • by graniteMonkey (87619) on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:32PM (#7933739)
    I have no pity for Lindows. Naming a project "Lindows" implies that Linux is some cheap knock-off of the "Real Thing".

    I remember seeing goods imported into Russia from China with things like alarm clocks with names in Russsian, which, when pronounced, sounded remarkably like "Hyundai", and "Adidas" bags with too many stripes and a bunch of garbage characters that were supposed to be a slogan. That's the kind of stuff I think of when I hear "Lindows".
  • Double standard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El (94934) on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:34PM (#7933759)
    Why is it when SCO implements a business model based on extremely questionable legal interpretation, they are accused of being "on crack"; whereas when MSFreePC implements an extremely questionable business model, they're really good guys? Wouldn't it be more consistent to conclude that the guys at SCO have been sharing their bad crack with the guys at MSFreePC?
  • Biased article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:34PM (#7933761)
    undoubtedly too bitter a pill for Microsoft to take

    The Lindows msfreepc.com site was discussed here a couple of months ago.

    The site was encouraging people to sign up for the rebate whether or not they were eligible and regardless, they had no basis to collect names.

    This is one of those rare instances when MS is totally right.
  • by segment (695309) <sil.politrix@org> on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:37PM (#7933783) Homepage Journal
    Lindows saw an opportunity to capitalise on the ruling by getting Microsoft to pay for users to have Lindows software and hardware; undoubtedly too bitter a pill for Microsoft to take.

    And no one sees anything wrong with this? I know I just woke up, but wtf should Microsoft dish our for another company's product... Call me a troll, d***, whatever you'd like but kudos to MS on this one

  • by Moth7 (699815) <mike...brownbill@@@gmail...com> on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:37PM (#7933789) Journal
    Didn't Jesus say that all sins were equally displeasing to the eyes of God?

    Jokes aside, what have we been seeing from the open sources media voices in recent times? Calls not to stoop to the level of those who would do wrong to the community - regardless of what the likes of MS have done, that's no excuse for stupid acts like those of MSFreePC.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:44PM (#7933834)
    Uhmm... You don't get it!!!

    The money was suppose to be a refund for Microsoft ilegally overcharging consumers as part of their anti-trust violations. As a refund the money should be the consumers to do whatever they want to with it. If they wanted to go out and use it to pay for part of an Ipod or Purchase a Linux distro or heck even to buy something not computer related, that should be the consumer's choice.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:45PM (#7933841)
    I have to strongly disagree. If they called themselves something like NycroSoft Lindows you might have a point. However, the idea of allowing someone to trademark a word as generic in the computer field as ``Windows'' is absolutely insane. Didn't X Windows exist before Microsoft Windows? Don't you refer to ``windows'' on a Macintosh or an Amiga or any other kind of system?
  • Re:Double standard (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Altrag (195300) on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:46PM (#7933847)
    From the other comments here, it doesn't seem like too many people consider them "the good guys".
    I went to the MSFreePC page myself and to me it looked a heckuva lot like it should have been in a popup window or a spam email -- a questionable "scam" filled more with bright colors than content. Admittedly I didn't bother going past the second page, but what I did see certainly didn't impress me.
  • by entrigant (233266) on Friday January 09, 2004 @06:57PM (#7933935)
    Microsoft is dishing out cash, what people decide to do with that cash is none of microsoft's business. If I were eligible, and I want to buy a lindows based pc with the settlement money that's my business. If Lindows wants to handle the details for me so I have to do less work, yay for them.
  • by phorm (591458) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:22PM (#7934104) Journal
    They aren't basing it on the concept that you couldn't make an informed decision, they are basing it on MS's anticompetitive practices that basically destroy competition.

    Lawyers were hired because MS was breaking anti-monopoly laws, not because you paid too much for windows. It's the concept that - were MS not so heavy-handed and dominating, there might be a lot more competing products. If there were competing products, you would have had more choice, and may have chosen something else.

    Really, I think that the settlement should pay out those that belonged to companies destroyed by MS, they're the ones that by far took the brunt of anti-trust.

    You may be happy with windows, I myself don't mind XP overly much. But if it weren't for MS, there might be something just as good, possibly better. We'll never know because very few were able to ever reach a workable status before being destroyed by MS, except for OS/Linux mainly due to availability, freedom, and wide distribution (not to mention dedication of many individuals who make OS possible).
  • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:23PM (#7934117)
    What is the big deal? Nobody is forcing people to use that service.

    The 'big deal' is that msfreepc is not authorized to even PROVIDE that service in the first place.

    H&R Block can submit your tax return on your behalf because the tax codes say a taxpayer can authorize another party to submit on their behalf.

    The conditions of the settlement in this case explicitly stated that claimants could NOT authorize another party to act on their behalf.
  • The market stopped being fair once money came into it. THe market stopped being fair when businesses stopped being locality driven. The market stopped being fair when the business owner stopped knowing all the customers who came into his store. The market stopped being fair a long long time ago.
  • by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:37PM (#7934238) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft broke the law, and have to pay the price. It's as simple as that. Because of their anti-competitive tactics, consumers have paid billions of dollars more than they would have been likely to had Microsoft played fair.

    The fact that you're offered the chance to get part of the money they illegally overcharged you with is in recognition that for many people there was no real choice. It wasn't about "making an informed purchase" but about customer being given the choice of Microsoft or nothing because of Microsofts illegal practices.

    If you don't want it, don't take it. But don't go around whining because the government upholds the law.

    If you think anti trust laws should be repealed, fine, but if they do, don't come whining when you get shafted left right and center by companies that get powerful enough to dictate whatever price they choose.

  • by NanoGator (522640) on Friday January 09, 2004 @07:41PM (#7934271) Homepage Journal
    "Frankly it was an underhanded act which is on a parallel with some microsoft have made in the past."

    The CEO of Lindows is constantly yanking Microsoft's chain. There's this, intentionally naming the software Lindows, offering a reward to hack the XBOX, etc... If this guy EVER gets support from the EFF, you all should be PISSED.
  • by rigorist (176416) on Friday January 09, 2004 @08:27PM (#7934566) Homepage
    If you didn't like the settlement, you could opt out. The members of a class in a class action always have the right to get out and either pursue their own lawsuits or not bring them

    Of course, since you're just a troll, you don't care. I doubt you are even a member of the class.
  • by Z4rd0Z (211373) <joseph at mammalia dot net> on Friday January 09, 2004 @08:29PM (#7934581) Homepage
    I never thought that looked legitimate at all. You can't just set up your own system for filing legal complaints. If you could every kook out there would be doing it. It reminds me of people who try to start their own country, only not as interesting.
  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Friday January 09, 2004 @08:56PM (#7934723)
    Okay. so tell us *why* Linux is "not ready" for the desktop yet then?

    The people that repeatedly make this statement never seem to qualify the reasons why...
  • by polyp2000 (444682) on Friday January 09, 2004 @10:24PM (#7935159) Homepage Journal
    I'll asume that wasnt a troll !
    But that is just plain wrong. You just read too much slashdot. Actually there are plenty of linux people out there who arent concerned with reacting to microsoft, and pursueing anti-microsoft ideals. Hey, and guess what There are a lot of MacOS users out there who are also bitching about the boys from Redmond.

    Microsoft are the king of stealing other peoples idea's. The thing with Open Source (note I say Open Source and not Linux!) is that it is built on the concept of sharing, openness and freedom. Open Source tends to build on good idea's wherever they may come from, but one thing you certainly cant accuse Open Source of is lack of innovation. I wonder why M$ created DirectX instead of using the crossplatform OpenGL? hmmm .. but I could go on.

    In anycase, everything we have today is built on something that came before. Music, Art, Films, and Books, All these things are inspired on things that have been done before. Its natural for humans to compare something new to something else that came before. Every innovation you will ever find has been built on the basis of another.

    Open Source is a powerful movement, its a driving force, Im proud to support it in anyway that I can. I think people have the right to make stuff that is free.

    Funnily enough I just watched Highlander,

    The Quickening has begun...
    Prepare for the Gathering...
    There can be only one ...

    Seems quite appropriate somehow !

    nick ...
  • Cheap profiteering (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2004 @11:10PM (#7935400)
    I'm glad. Lindows is nothing but cheap profiteering, and this site was a horrible example of it. Sun's Java Desktop and IBM's efforts are serious attempts to bring Linux to the desktop.

  • Re:Double standard (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cookd (72933) <douglascook&juno,com> on Saturday January 10, 2004 @12:26AM (#7935746) Journal
    So lets see if we understand each other. You're saying:

    1. Once a criminal, always a criminal.
    2. Using monopoly positioning to maintain a monopoly makes a company into a criminal.
    3. Managing to get off with a penalty less than what you think they deserve makes Microsoft the worst kind of criminal.
    4. If a company is a criminal, that means that everybody else gets to do whatever they want at that company's expense.

    Ok, I've got some problems with that. First, why isn't Lindows a criminal now? They have been convicted of abusing the settlement. Now don't get technical with all that nonsense about the class of law they have broken and the terms applied to the ones who have broken which... Oh, and have you ever gone faster than the posted speed limit? If so, I think you'd better give me all of your money, you scummy criminal you.

    On a more rational note: please study law just a little bit before you go off about what everybody is guilty of. All business is cutthroat. All businesses are out there to make money. Certain actions are illegal. Certain actions are unfair. Certain actions are mean, wrong, uncivilized, etc. Monopoly hasn't been convicted of doing anything inherently illegal -- it has been decided in that some of its business practices are unfair, and that they are in violation of some contracts. There are laws that state that if a company is engaging in certain unfair practices, the US government has the power and/or obligation to step in and stop those practices and perhaps demand penalties and/or reparations. And there is nothing in the law that says companies can't be mean. They might scare away all of their customers or their partners, but otherwise companies can be as mean as they want as long as they aren't illegal or unfair.

    As far as unfair goes, that is a pretty vague adjective, and to a large extent, the definition is unclear until a judge has decided on the case. Some things are definitely unfair, others are a little bit unfair. Well, guess what -- life just isn't fair. So to a certain extent, companies are expected to stick up for themselves and deal with other companies that treat them unfairly. Only when that doesn't work does the government step in, and then only with the smallest intervention that is expected to effectively level the playing field. It doesn't mean that once a company has been "convicted" of "monopoly" that they have to give in and do whatever anybody else wants. Neither does it mean that their competitors can now do whatever they want. It just means that they can't continue with specific practices that have been determined to be "unfair", and perhaps pay damages.

    Microsoft is doing this. So the courts have determined that they are ok now. Guess what: you don't get to decide.

    You can't have it both ways. Either you agree with the court or you don't. If you agree with the court, then Microsoft has been found to have engaged in unfair business conduct and has been appropriately sanctioned. If you don't agree with the court, then Microsoft has not been "convicted" of anything, since you don't accept the court's decision.
  • Re:Double standard (Score:2, Insightful)

    by shaitand (626655) on Saturday January 10, 2004 @01:02AM (#7935878) Journal
    "Ok, I've got some problems with that. First, why isn't Lindows a criminal now? They have been convicted of abusing the settlement. Now don't get technical with all that nonsense about the class of law they have broken and the terms applied to the ones who have broken which... Oh, and have you ever gone faster than the posted speed limit? If so, I think you'd better give me all of your money, you scummy criminal you."

    Give me a break, this isn't grabbing every penny microsoft has, this is simply about them actually paying the token penalty for breaking the law.

    You aren't actually saying, but are strongly implying that what Microsoft has done doesn't fall into the illegal class, but merely the unfair class. What microsoft has done AND IS DOING is ILLEGAL not merely unfair. You act as if they are two seperate things, and normally they are, in microsoft's case they are actually so extremely unfair that what they are doing is illegal.

    The courts have not merely found microsoft to be engaged in an unfair business practice. The court found Microsoft to be engaging in ILLEGAL monopoly practices, initially the courts ordered a halfway decent settlement, so microsoft bribed an appeals court and put some very powerful political entities on it's payroll and had that overturned. They commited purjury more times than I care to count throughout the course of the trial.

    I have never said anything about agreeing with a court. I never even said I agree with every law on the books. I merely said that someone who is breaking the law is a criminal. That's what defines a criminal. Arguing about timelines doesn't come into play here because microsoft continues to engage in practices which are according to the law books and constitution of the united states of america, ILLEGAL. You could argue a criminal could reform and that if someone once broke a law it would be unfair to call them a criminal forever, but certainly you wouldn't claim that someone who persists at the present moment in flaunting the law is not a criminal!

    The law books define the law, congress makes the law (or a certain portion of the states in the case of the Constitution)... courts however do NOT make the law, they merely decide whether or not the law is being violated according to themselves and what punishment. Someone who lies in court HAS broken the law, someone who is lying in court this very moment cannot be disputed to be a criminal. Whether or not they are ever determined to break the law by a judge does not change those facts.

    "Guess what: you don't get to decide."

    Guess what, I and every other american DO get to decide.

    As for Lindows, they merely established a website to help people collect the penalty that had been ordered against microsoft for their illegal practices. They did nothing underhanded or shady, they hid in no shadows. As it turns out there is a clause in the settlement that doesn't allow you to use an intermediary (something micrsoft of course made sure was there so that it would be as difficult as possible to collect, since even a lawyer could be argued an intermediary) as a result the judge determined that the claims would not be accepted. Yay for microsoft.

    But lindows has certainly NOT be convicted of anything, nor have they even been accused of a crime or breaking ANY law on the books! That part is for your benefit. For my own, there no law on the books which they are in reality breaking by doing this either.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 10, 2004 @01:43AM (#7936058)
    Face it, if somebody started making cheap purses with the brand name CUCCI, that happened to look a lot like GUCCI purses, don't you think GUCCI would sue? What if Chevy made a minivan called the Lindstar that looks almost identical to a Ford Windstar?

    To me it looks like a clear case of trademark infringement. Lindows is spelled and pronounced very similar to a competing product's name, which can easily cause consumers to be confused. It also looks like they're specifically trying to cash in on the Windows name.

    aQazaQa
  • by AK Marc (707885) on Monday January 12, 2004 @05:13PM (#7955803)
    Microsoft Windows costs $99, $30 cheaper than MacOS.

    Where can I buy a full version (non-upgrade) for $99?

    The so-called law MS broke is so vague, they didn't even know they broke it until they were convicted.

    Then their lawyers are incompetent. More likely, they knew they were close but hoped that they could successfully fight it.

    Given the existence of products such as MacOS, Linux, various flavors of unix, OS/2, etc., why should MS be called a monopoly?

    Because of the percentage of the market they control, as well as the anti-competitive agreements they forged based on the large market share

    Just look at Standard Oil as an example of a so-called harmful monopoly that managed to decrease the price of oil by 70% to consumers.

    And if Intel were a monopoly, the 1000X processor improvement and 50,000X memory improvement in my current computer over my first computer would be because of their willingness to serve the consumer?

    Standard Oil gained a conscience after fleecing the customers for a while. The savings to the customer were due to huge leaps in efficiencies from the time that Standard Oil began their practices which were so henious that anti-trust laws were passed with them specifically in mind, and not due to any efficiencies of monopolies. The consumer would have been better off without a Standard Oil monopoly. Standard Oil targeted specific bottlenecks in the oil distribution network and no other company could go through them, nor could they build a separate infrastructure, but not for lack of trying. It wasn't pricing that eliminated competition.

"If a computer can't directly address all the RAM you can use, it's just a toy." -- anonymous comp.sys.amiga posting, non-sequitir

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