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Last Updated: Friday, 14 May, 2004, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Microsoft's legal bill 'too big'
Microsoft founder Bill Gates
Not even the very wealthy are happy with sky-high legal bills
Microsoft is objecting to the size of legal bills submitted by lawyers who brought an anti-trust case in California against the software giant.

Microsoft told a California court that consumers could suffer if it has to pay the full $258m (146.7m) bill.

The legal costs are part of Microsoft's settlement for over-charging consumers buying its software in California.

"I wouldn't have put it in if I didn't think we earned it," said Eugene Crew, the lead attorney against Microsoft.

"Somebody ends up paying for this," said Microsoft attorney Robert Rosenfeld. "These large fee awards get passed on to consumers."

Proud

Microsoft made its objections to the judge in San Francisco Superior County Court.

It eventually settled the 5-year old class action law suit by agreeing to a system of compensation vouchers for 13 million California consumers.

The value of any unclaimed vouchers was to be paid to California state schools.

Mr Crew has billed Microsoft just over $3,000 an hour for his own work, as well as more than $2,000 an hour for other lawyers on his team.

"I'm proud of what we did. I am certainly not ashamed of it, and I believe that we deserve it," Mr Crew told ABC News. He argued that the lawyers took a big risk to sue Microsoft with no guarantee of reward.

The scale of Microsoft's recent legal settlements has eaten into its profits recently. It blamed legal costs for the 38% drop in profits for the three months to March 2004, to $1.32bn.

Microsoft has recently agreed settlements of more than $2bn in several patent cases and a class action lawsuit in Minnesota. It is continuing its legal battle with the EU to overturn an anti-trust fine of 497m euros ($613m; 331m).




SEE ALSO:
Microsoft hit by record EU fine
24 Mar 04  |  Business


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