Microsoft Corp. asked a federal judge yesterday to dismiss 37 of the 62 antitrust cases against it in Baltimore, saying it never sold any computer systems to any of those who sued.
The 62 cases, lawsuits that were filed as legal echoes of the Justice Department and state governments' massive antitrust case against the software giant, have been collected for joint handling by Chief U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz.
Unlike the federal and state case, the Baltimore lawsuits - filed by private companies and individuals - seek tripled damages from Microsoft, claiming that it violated federal or state antitrust law by monopolizing software markets and by charging inflated prices.
The government case sought a breakup of Microsoft, plus tight restrictions on the company's business behavior, but did not seek damages. That case is awaiting reaction by the Supreme Court to Microsoft's appeal. The Baltimore cases do not deal with the company's structure, but only past marketing practices, some of which occurred years ago.
While the federal-state case focuses on Microsoft's Windows operating system and its Internet Explorer browser, the cases before Motz involved other products, including word processing, spreadsheet and office suite software.
If Motz throws out all the cases Microsoft challenged yesterday, nearly two dozen cases would still be pending. But the company said paring down the volume of cases would make the remaining lawsuits more manageable and clarify the legal issues.
In yesterday's filing, the company focused mainly on the argument that those who sued in the 37 cases did not deal directly with Microsoft, but obtained the company's products through computer manufacturers like Compaq Corp. or retailers like CompUSA.
"None alleged that they paid any money directly to Microsoft for any software," the motion said. "They did not pay anything, let alone any overcharge, to Microsoft."