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Johnson v. Microsoft

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Citation Edit

Johnson v. Microsoft Corp., 2008 WL 803124 (W.D. Wash. Mar. 21, 2008).

Factual Background Edit

Defendant Microsoft Corporation (“Microsoft”) created the Windows Genuine Advantage (“WGA”) software program to verify whether a user’s copy of Windows XP operating system (“XP”) was genuine or not. When a user installed XP, the XP End User License Agreement (“EULA”) was displayed on the screen and the user must accept it to continue installation. After XP is installed, it must be activated within thirty days. When it is activated, the computer sends a unique twenty-five character license key to Microsoft to confirm that the “user’s copy of XP was genuine and that the software had not already been installed on another user’s computer.” Microsoft made WGA available users through three different XP update programs: Automatic Update, Windows Update and Microsoft Update.

Plaintiffs, potential members of a class action against Microsoft brought their first complaint alleging that Microsoft’s installation of WGA on their computers breached their XP EULAs, violated Washington’s Consumer Protection Act, and constituted trespass to chattels, nuisance, and interference with use of property.

Microsoft moved for summary judgment on the EULA claims, and requested dismissal of all claims asserted by three Plaintiffs. Three months later, Plaintiffs moved for leave to amend their original complaint. Their proposed second complaint would remove the three disputed Plaintiffs and add five new ones, modify the contract claims and add an unjust enrichment claim.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

The district court ruled that the Plaintiffs were entitled to leave to amend — finding that the Plaintiffs did not unduly delay filing the motion and that Microsoft would not be substantially prejudiced by the amendment. Microsoft’s summary judgment motion was granted in part and denied in part. The court agreed with the Microsoft that the three disputed Plaintiffs lacked standing and should have their claims dismissed. Since Plaintiffs were permitted to amend, the court ruled that Microsoft’s motion for summary judgment on the contract claims was premature. In the interest of maximizing efficiency, the court denied, without prejudice, Microsoft’s motion for summary judgment on the contract claims.

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