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In trial, Microsoft denies using monopoly

Microsoft argued in a Minnesota court Tuesday that it never overcharged customers for software, denying charges in its first trial of a class-action suit that it abused its operating system monopoly to hike prices.

At stake are monetary damages that could total as much as $425 million if a jury finds that Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, used its dominant position in personal computer software to inflate profits. The case under way in Minneapolis in front of Hennepin County District Court Judge Bruce Peterson is the first class-action case against Microsoft to go to trial. Since last year, Microsoft has reached settlements in nine states and the District of Columbia totaling more than $1.5 billion. "Microsoft's high market share is the result of choices made by millions of people to buy Microsoft software," David Tulchin, the company's lead lawyer, argued in his opening statement. "There have always been choices for consumers."

Tulchin told the jurors that in the 1990s, the price of Windows "has stayed about the same while the quality has gone up. In the other two markets (Word and Excel) the prices have actually gone way down." The plaintiffs' lead attorney, Richard Hagstrom, said he would prove that "Microsoft's prices are higher than what consumers would have paid in a competitive market." "They lied, cheated and deceived to get monopoly-level profits," Hagstrom told the jury.

News source: C|Net News.com

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