Townsend’s Microsoft settlement challenged

West Coast IP boutique Townsend and Townsend and Crew has all but finished its seven-year, $1.1bn (£624.7m) consumer class action against Microsoft, which should reap fees of around $101m (£57.4m).

Microsoft, represented by Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe, first settled the case in January 2003. It agreed to pay more than $1bn (£567.9m) in any-brand computer vouchers to the 13 million Californians who purchased Microsoft software between 1995 and 2001.

Unclaimed settlement funds were to be divided, with Microsoft keeping one-third and the remainder, to be paid to Californian state schools in a mixture of any-brand software vouchers and Microsoft educational software.

But Sacramento lawyer Charles Jakob, a member of the class, challenged the settlement, arguing that the court should order distribution of unclaimed funds, and that these should not go to schools because this would establish Microsoft products as standards.

However, California’s Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s decision on 9 January, stating that the settlement was “fair, adequate and reasonable”, which comprise the legal standards for approving such settlements.

Jakob has 30 days from the decision to ask for a rehearing, then a further 10 to ask the California Supreme Court to consider reviewing the case.

“We’ve worked on this for seven years, so we can wait another 40 days,” concluded Townsend’s Eugene Crew, the lead partner on the class action.