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Microsoft settles lawsuit against Ballmer, Gates, others over browser ballot blunder's US$732 million fine

Gregg Keizer | Dec. 7, 2015
Will spend another US$50 million to create antitrust compliance office, pay lawyers after settling suit that stemmed from 2012 Windows fiasco.

In April 2014, a pair of Microsoft shareholders, Kim Barovic and Stephen DiPhilipo, sued Microsoft's former CEOs, its board, and other top-tier executives over the fine. "As a result of their actions, the defendants have caused the company to be damaged to the extent of at least $732.2 million," Barovic's lawyers wrote in her original complaint.

Barovic and DiPhilipo went to court after their demand that the Microsoft board "investigate and commence an action against certain current and/or former directors and executive officers of the company" was rejected earlier that year.

The settlement between Barovic and DiPhilipo on one hand, and the cited Microsoft officials on the other, will require Microsoft to hire an antitrust compliance officer. That officer will create a department to oversee current settlement compliance and any future antitrust settlement the company strikes with U.S. or EU regulators, track all antitrust complaints and manage training in antitrust compliance throughout the firm.

The antitrust compliance officer will also be able to launch internal investigations if he or she believes compliance is being flouted.

Microsoft will set aside $42.5 million to fund the new office at the rate of $8.5 million annually for five years. Also as part of the settlement, Microsoft will pay the plaintiffs' lawyers $7.3 million in fees and expenses, with potential $5,000 "incentive awards" for each lawyer on top of that.

The settlement requires court approval. Presumably, that final approval will be given at a settlement hearing scheduled for Jan. 12, 2016.


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