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Danish FreeBSD Dev. Sues Lenovo Over "Microsoft Tax" 318

Handbrewer writes "The FreeBSD developer Poul-Henning Kamp (phk) has sued Lenovo in Denmark (Google translation, original here) over their refusal to refund the Windows Vista Business license, even though he declined the EULA during installation. Lenovo argues that they sell the computer as a full product, and that they cannot refund it partially, such as the power supply or the OS even if people intend to use a different one. This seems to be contrary to previous rulings in the EU where Acer and HP has been forced to refund the 'Microsoft tax.'"
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Danish FreeBSD Dev. Sues Lenovo Over "Microsoft Tax"

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  • Full refund (Score:4, Informative)

    by sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @10:47AM (#29065605) Homepage

    Better have a full refund and buy from someone else.
    Case closed

    • Re:Full refund (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @10:49AM (#29065625)

      Much better to push a microsoft tax onto the company via lawsuits.
      Then they will feel the pain and make refunds a standard policy.
      Lots and lots of lawsuits even better.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by FudRucker ( 866063 )
        find enough people and make it a class action...
        • Re:Full refund (Score:4, Insightful)

          by IdleTime ( 561841 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:02AM (#29065799) Journal
          Du er sikkert ikke dansk men en Amerikaner!

          Why is it that you think class action lawsuits are something found all over the world? Why is it you think that the world follow the US judicial system? Are you really so totally uninformed about the world outside your own country?

          Btw, the US do not have a justice system, it only has a punishment system.
          • Re:Full refund (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:20AM (#29066107)
            Btw, the US do not have a justice system, it only has a punishment system.

            This statement alone should be marked +5 insightful (and that's coming from US citizen).
            • Re:Full refund (Score:4, Interesting)

              by maino82 ( 851720 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @12:10PM (#29066875)
              I just spent 3 weeks on jury duty, and while I would have probably agreed with you before that, I have to disagree. We have a fantastic justice system, and while it may not be perfect, it does work.
          • Re:Full refund (Score:4, Insightful)

            by kevinNCSU ( 1531307 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:41AM (#29066463)

            Are you really so uninformed as to believe the majority of the people in this world have a deep understandings of the workings of their own legal systems let alone all the particulars of the legal systems of all the other countries of the world?

            Or did it just seem like a convenient time to bash the ignorant Americans and get modded up for it?

          • Re:Full refund (Score:5, Informative)

            by scoof ( 2459 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:57AM (#29066687) Homepage

            Why is it that you think class action lawsuits are something found all over the world?

            At least they're found in Denmark (Retsplejeloven chapter 23 a), so in this case, they may be entirely appropriate. Unlike your comment.

          • Re:Full refund (Score:5, Insightful)

            by jim_v2000 ( 818799 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @12:18PM (#29066969)
            "Are you really so totally uninformed about the world outside your own country? "

            Because understanding every nuance of the court systems of other countries is obviously the indicator of how informed someone is. Keep the dickish outrage to yourself.
          • Re:Full refund (Score:5, Informative)

            by bcong ( 1125705 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @12:19PM (#29066975)
            Denmark does have a similar class action lawsuit type civil case. It's called Gruppesogsmal (sic) []
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Why is it that you think class action lawsuits are something found all over the world? Why is it you think that the world follow the US judicial system? Are you really so totally uninformed about the world outside your own country?

            No but it seems you are. Here's a nice "fuck you" list for the ignorant US-basher.

            The Austrian Code of Civil Procedure (Zivilprozessordnung â" ZPO) does not provide for a special proceeding for complex class action litigation.

            Provincial laws in Canada allow class actions. All provinces permit plaintiff classes and some permit defendant classes. Quebec was the first province to enact U.S.-style class proceedings legislation in 1978. Ontario was next with the Class Proceedings Act, 1992. As

        • Re:Full refund (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:30AM (#29066285) Homepage Journal

          Class action suits don't help anyone but the lawyers. I've been contacted by lawyers pressing class action suits against various companies, but I never reply any more. Gyped out of a hundred buck by some ratty product, and you get maye five bucks out of the deal while the lawyers get millions. It's not even worth sending the card back in.

      • Re:Full refund (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:04AM (#29065831) Homepage Journal

        Or even better to make them offer Windows as a totally separate product, not automatically part of every computer purchase.

        Let's not lose sight of who is to blame, though. (I take that back: let's lose sight after all, because it's more complicated than most people suspect.) Microsoft sells a product to Lenovo. Lenovo resells it. Microsoft puts wording on a paper or the screen, saying that if you don't want their stuff, Lenovo will give you your money back. WTF? How can Microsoft speak for Lenovo? Pretty damn arrogant. Did Lenovo agree to that?

        Actually, that's a very serious question: Does Lenovo become bound to the EULA? Are they re-selling Windows or re-licensing it?

        The Blizzard case's judge asserted that "title transfers" don't ever happen with software. Nothing is ever sold. Ergo, if you walk into a retail store and pay cash for a Blizzard game just like you would for a loaf of bread, you're not actually buying it. That means the retailer never bought it either. Ergo, the retailer must have licensed it as well (though they never even opened the package so never even implicitly agreed to the EULA -- ah, the mystical magic of EULAs, the only kind of contract of its kind!).

        The Blizzard judge would say that Lenovo signed a contract in blood with both Microsoft and the computer purchaser, and therefore Lenovo agreed to every term Microsoft put in the license: Lenovo must pay the refund that Microsoft offered. Any layman would say Lenovo is just a reseller and has no obligation to Microsoft to pay refunds on their behalf; the EULA is between Microsoft and whoever reads it -- but that layman also wants his money back and damn well knows Microsoft ain't gonna pay it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by T-Bone-T ( 1048702 )

          Of course Lenovo is not bound to the EULA. Lenovo is not the EU, End User. They have a different agreement/license/contract.

          • Re:Full refund (Score:4, Interesting)

            by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:58AM (#29066691) Homepage Journal

            Of course Lenovo is not bound to the EULA. Lenovo is not the EU, End User. They have a different agreement/license/contract.

            The EULA specifies that the user may decline by returning the purchased copy and destroying all backup copies. But if the OEM is not bound, then the user has no way to decline. In this case, the consideration [] on the user's part is dubious, and the user is likely not bound by anything but the same laws that apply to someone who buys a book: sale of goods law and copyright law. I don't know about Denmark, but in at least the United States, it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program (where state law defines "owner") to copy the program into a computer to use it (17 USC 117).

        • No they don't promise to refund, the OEM license says: "However you may compensate end users for Software or Hardware returned to you under the License Terms." ( . Note the may. Also, OEM licensing involves buying the licenses in bulk for a large discount. In that sense the OEM is a reseller because they are using multiple customers' purchases to qualify for the bulk discounts.

          They aren't just buying a copy of Windows off the shelf and installing it on t

        • The Blizzard case's judge asserted that "title transfers" don't ever happen with software. Nothing is ever sold.

          Which means the Uniform Commercial Code doesn't apply. I doubt he considered the implications of that, though; he just wanted to rule for Blizzard. However, that was a US case and this is in Denmark...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kc8tbe ( 772879 )

      Indeed, Lenovo has made it abundantly clear that they want to Microsoft whores. That's why, although I love my T61, I recently bought a Dell Latitude E6500 when I needed a new computer. Dell couldn't sell it in the configuration I wanted without Windows, but they gave me an $80 discount when I told them I'd be using Linux! It's a solid laptop, metal hinges and all -- good riddance, Lenovo!

  • It's even worse in the US, where microsoft's influence runs deep. How did we ever get in this situation? Any history buffs wanna recount?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      I believe Microsoft invented the idea of "licensing" software. They licensed DOS, which they bought from some other guy, to IBM and made bank. Such deals with IBM et al. allowed them to quickly dominate the relatively infant "PC" market, and the rest is history. They've been delivering abuse ever since.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by LMacG ( 118321 )

        I'm pretty sure IBM was licensing software long before Microsoft existed, probably before Bill Gates existed. They also got in trouble with the government for bundling hardware and software, and were subject to a consent decree until 2001. Current PC manufacturers probably can get away with bundling because they're not producing both the hardware and software.

    • by Brett Buck ( 811747 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:25AM (#29066183)

      How did we ever get in this situation? Any history buffs wanna recount?

          No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

    • by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @01:29PM (#29067993)

      I'm no history buff, but the way I see it:

      1) Microsoft basically invented the concept of software licensing in the first place, and so got a good head-start
      2) Microsoft began as a software (only) company, therefore they were able to sell their OS to dozens of OEMs, and not only on their own machines (as opposed to, say, Commodore or Apple.)
      3) Europe/Asia/the rest of the world, for some reason, was *waaay* behind on the whole affair. What I don't get is why Japan buy Windows-- Japan was building computers for decades, it never occurred to anybody there to make a home-grown OS? Why didn't France make one? What's the UK's version of Microsoft? In fact, why is every non-English-speaking country running an OS created by the whitest of the white Americans in Redmond, WA?

  • I wish him well on the lawsuit, but I won't hold my breath...

  • EULA (Score:3, Informative)

    by abigsmurf ( 919188 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:10AM (#29065937)
    I know the EULA states you can get a refund if you don't agree to the terms however, that still doesn't mean Lenevo have to give you the laptop sans windows at a cheaper rate. They can simply say "you don't won't to pay for windows? Fine, send us the laptop and we'll refund what you paid for it".
    • That would be a piss poor business decision on Lenovo's part to demand a refund for the entire unit. In doing so, they lose the entire sale. Wouldn't they be better off by simply refunding something like 100.00 and not losing the sale entirely? It's not like a car and an engine where the car company would endure a cost hardship by removing the engine. In this case the OS "engine," is being removed and replaced at the consumer's expense.
      • Laptops are an incredibly competitive market. May be better for them to take a handful of lost sales on the chin than risk a few thousand people asking for this kind of refund.

        It's also possible that not installing the OS messes around with their production line but I suppose it depends on if Lenevo laptops are built to order or not.
  • by TinBromide ( 921574 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:11AM (#29065959)
    I wouldn't be surprised if lenovo paid something low as in $5 per license of windows when everything was said and done, and then recouped the cost of the license with bloatware. This guy would be miffed to get a $5 check and microsoft would be miffed to have their B2B cost revealed to be a tiny tiny fraction of what they gut consumers for.
  • According to some story circulating the net ( [] ), the Lenovo hotline in Germany denies that it is possible, but if you talk to a certain person at Lenovo, you will get a refund of 30 Euros for your Windows license.

    I have not tried myself, maybe for my next laptop...

  • Choices (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mwoliver ( 688853 ) <> on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:29AM (#29066269) Homepage

    Guys, I have used FreeBSD for a decade on multiple machines, some running CURRENT, and thus have had the privilege of not only listening to PHK's reasoned discussions, but also engaging in such discussions with him. I also supported his paid development project a few years ago, so you can be sure that I am *not* an unbiased contributor to this article.

    That said, I am pretty sure that PHK didn't just decide over coffee or beer to sue Lenovo without giving the matter serious thought, research and consideration. Certainly, what MS charges OEMs and distributors for licenses is far less than the retail price you or I would pay, so I don't personally think that money is the issue at all. I haven't asked him personally so can't say with authority, but I would imagine that this is more about OS choice (or none) during the configure/customize process when shopping online and opting out of a MS OS up-front rather than any monetary settlement. It's the principle of the issue, not the money. At least that's how I see it and how I would like to see the outcome. Give consumers a choice to opt out of a forced MS OS, even if there is no financial benefit.

  • by HoldmyCauls ( 239328 ) on Friday August 14, 2009 @01:12PM (#29067727) Journal

    If the computer ceases to function at that point, then Lenovo sold him a broken computer when once the EULA was declined.

    I've never seen an answer to this, and halfway through the posts I still don't. Writing this from work, so I may COTFA later.

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