Thursday, April 20, 2006, 5:16 PM

Fourth Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Antitrust Suit Against Microsoft Under Indirect Purchaser And Antitrust Standing Doctrines

Authored by: Jason Hicks
Yesterday the Fourth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a multidistrict class action antitrust suit brought against Microsoft Corporation by purchasers of Microsoft's operating system and applications. Since plaintiffs did not buy their software directly from Microsoft (but rather bought such software preinstalled on their computers from the original equipment manufacturers), the court concluded that plaintiffs were indirect purchasers who were barred from seeking recovery for illegal pass-through overcharges under the principles of Illinois Brick Co. v. Illinois, 431 U.S. 720 (1977). As an independent reason for the dismissal of plaintiffs claims, the court found that plaintiffs' lacked standing because they did not suffer an antitrust-type injury under the five factor test in American General Contractors v. California State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519 (1983). The opinion is a good example of how the indirect purchaser doctrine is similar to but conceptually different from the antitrust standing/injury doctrine. The decision can be accessed at this link.

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