The settlement of the Microsoft anti-trust case got interesting this week — and developments revealed the laughably absurd nature of much of the suit against the company. Reports in the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere revealed that Mister Softee will “give $1 billion worth of software and related goods and services to needy schools” as part of its settlement.
First the lawyers vilified the Redmond behemoth for years, labeling it a predatory, monopolistic cancer unfit to do business. Now these lawyers want the company’s goodies in order to distribute them to little school kids. Go figure.
Actually, not all the lawyers are thrilled. Some of them hate the idea and are howling mad about it. The most revealing cries came from the tempestuous California Attorney General Bill Lockyer who is furious with the emerging settlement terms. “It’s a little like Big Tobacco being found guilty of selling cigarettes to minors, and the remedy is for them to agree to give them free cigarettes,” Lockyer said.
To Lockyer and other predatory AG’s and their trial lawyer allies, Microsoft is not a multi-billion dollar global company that creates products that millions of people around the world love and use every day. It’s just a poisonous monster that needs to be laid low. This is precisely the sort of arrogance that led to Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson’s public spanking as his order to break up the company was vacated. Will they ever learn?
One good feature of the settlement: the fees for the trial lawyers won’t be tied to the size of the settlement as is often the case in big class-action cases. The judge will determine the fees for the lawyers. This is a good sign.