Commitments and contingencies

Notes to Financial Statements


Antitrust, Unfair Competition, and Overcharge Class Actions

A large number of antitrust and unfair competition class action lawsuits were filed against us in various state, federal, and Canadian courts on behalf of various classes of direct and indirect purchasers of our PC operating system and certain other software products between 1999 and 2005.

We obtained dismissals or reached settlements of all claims made in the United States. Under the settlements, generally class members can obtain vouchers that entitle them to be reimbursed for purchases of a wide variety of platform-neutral computer hardware and software. The total value of vouchers that we may issue varies by state. We will make available to certain schools a percentage of those vouchers that are not issued or claimed (one-half to two-thirds depending on the state). The total value of vouchers we ultimately issue will depend on the number of class members who make claims and are issued vouchers. We estimate the total remaining cost of the settlements is approximately $400 million, all of which had been accrued as of March 31, 2014.

Three similar cases pending in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec, Canada have not been settled. In March 2010, the court in the British Columbia case certified it as a class action. In April 2011, the British Columbia Court of Appeal reversed the class certification ruling and dismissed the case. The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Canadian Supreme Court. In October 2013, the Supreme Court reversed and reinstated part of the British Columbia case, which is now scheduled for trial in September 2015. The other two cases were inactive pending action by the Supreme Court on the British Columbia case.

Other Antitrust Litigation and Claims

In November 2004, Novell, Inc. (“Novell”) filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah (later transferred to federal court in Maryland), asserting antitrust and unfair competition claims against us related to Novell’s ownership of WordPerfect and other productivity applications during the period between June 1994 and March 1996. After the trial court dismissed or granted summary judgment on a number of Novell’s claims, trial of the one remaining claim took place in late 2011 and resulted in a mistrial. In July 2012, the trial court granted Microsoft’s motion for judgment as a matter of law. Novell appealed this decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which affirmed the trial court’s decision in September 2013. The Court of Appeals denied Novell’s request for rehearing and en banc review. Novell has filed a petition seeking review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Patent and Intellectual Property Claims

Motorola litigation

In October 2010, Microsoft filed patent infringement complaints against Motorola Mobility (“Motorola”) with the International Trade Commission (“ITC”) and in U.S. District Court in Seattle for infringement of nine Microsoft patents by Motorola’s Android devices. Since then, Microsoft and Motorola have filed additional claims against each other with the ITC, in federal district courts in Seattle, Wisconsin, Florida, and California, and in courts in Germany and the United Kingdom. The nature of the claims asserted and status of individual matters are summarized below.

International Trade Commission

In May 2012, the ITC issued a limited exclusion order against Motorola on one Microsoft patent, which became effective in July 2012 and was affirmed on appeal in December 2013.

In July 2013, Microsoft filed an action in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. seeking an order to compel enforcement of the ITC’s May 2012 import ban against infringing Motorola products by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), after learning that CBP had failed to fully enforce the order.

In November 2010, Motorola filed an action against Microsoft with the ITC alleging infringement of five Motorola patents by Xbox consoles and accessories and seeking an exclusion order to prohibit importation of the allegedly infringing Xbox products. At Motorola’s request, the ITC terminated its investigation of four Motorola patents. In March 2013, the ITC affirmed there was no violation of the remaining Motorola patent. Motorola appealed the ITC’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

U.S. District Court

The Seattle District Court case filed in October 2010 by Microsoft as a companion to Microsoft’s ITC case against Motorola has been stayed pending the outcome of the ITC case.

In November 2010, Microsoft sued Motorola for breach of contract in U.S. District Court in Seattle, alleging that Motorola breached its commitments to standards-setting organizations to license to Microsoft certain patents on reasonable and non-discriminatory (“RAND”) terms and conditions. Motorola has declared these patents essential to the implementation of the H.264 video standard and the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard. In the Motorola ITC case described above and in suits described below, Motorola or a Motorola affiliate subsequently sued Microsoft on those patents in U.S. District Courts, in the ITC, and in Germany. In February 2012, the Seattle District Court granted a partial summary judgment in favor of Microsoft ruling that (1) Motorola had committed to standards organizations to license its declared-essential patents on RAND terms and conditions; and (2) Microsoft is a third-party beneficiary of those commitments. After trial, the Seattle District Court set per unit royalties for Motorola’s H.264 and 802.11 patents, which resulted in an immaterial Microsoft liability. In September 2013, following trial of Microsoft’s breach of contract claim, a jury awarded $14.5 million in damages to Microsoft. Motorola has appealed.

Cases filed by Motorola in Wisconsin, California, and Florida, with the exception of one currently stayed case in Wisconsin (a companion case to Motorola’s ITC action), have been transferred to the U.S District Court in Seattle. Motorola and Microsoft both seek damages as well as injunctive relief. No trial dates have been set in any of the transferred cases, and the court has stayed these cases on agreement of the parties.



In the transferred cases, Motorola asserts 15 patents are infringed by many Microsoft products including Windows Mobile 6.5 and Windows Phone 7, Windows Marketplace, Silverlight, Windows Vista and Windows 7, Exchange Server 2003 and later, Exchange ActiveSync, Windows Live Messenger, Lync Server 2010, Outlook 2010, Office 365, SQL Server, Internet Explorer 9, Xbox, and Kinect.



In the Motorola action originally filed in California, Motorola asserts that Microsoft violated antitrust laws in connection with Microsoft’s assertion of patents against Motorola that Microsoft has agreed to license to certain qualifying entities on RAND terms and conditions.



In counterclaims, Microsoft asserts 14 patents are infringed by Motorola Android devices and certain Motorola digital video recorders.



In July 2011, Motorola filed patent infringement actions in Germany against Microsoft and several Microsoft subsidiaries.



Motorola asserts two patents (one now expired) are essential to implementation of the H.264 video standard, and Motorola alleges that H.264 capable products including Xbox 360, Windows 7, Media Player, and Internet Explorer infringe those patents. In May 2012, the court issued an injunction relating to all H.264 capable Microsoft products in Germany. However, orders in the litigation pending in Seattle, Washington described above enjoin Motorola from enforcing the German injunction. Microsoft has appealed the rulings of the first instance court.



Motorola asserts that one patent covers certain syncing functionality in the ActiveSync protocol employed by Windows Phone 7, Outlook Mobile, Hotmail Mobile, Exchange Online, Exchange Server, and Hotmail Server. In April 2013, the court stayed the case pending the outcome of parallel proceedings in which Microsoft is seeking to invalidate the patent. In November 2013, the Federal Patent Court invalidated the patent in relevant part. Motorola has appealed.



Microsoft may be able to mitigate the adverse impact of any injunction issued and enforced by altering its products to avoid Motorola’s infringement claims.



Any damages would be determined in separate proceedings.

In lawsuits Microsoft filed in Germany in 2011 and 2012, Microsoft asserts that Motorola Android devices infringe Microsoft patents and is seeking damages and injunctions. In 2012, regional courts in Germany issued injunctions on three of the patents Microsoft asserts. Motorola has appealed. One judgment has been affirmed on appeal (and Motorola has further appealed), and the other two appeals are pending. In actions filed separately by Motorola to invalidate these patents, the Federal Patent court in November and December 2013 held invalid two of the Microsoft patents. Microsoft has appealed. One of Microsoft’s cases seeking an injunction is still pending in the first instance court. For the cases in which Microsoft obtained injunctions, if Motorola were to prevail following all appeals, Motorola could have a claim against Microsoft for damages caused by an erroneously granted injunction.

United Kingdom

In December 2011, Microsoft filed an action against Motorola in the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, Patents Court, in London, England, seeking to revoke the UK part of the European patent asserted by Motorola in Germany against the ActiveSync protocol. In February 2012, Motorola counterclaimed alleging infringement of the patent and seeking damages and an injunction. In December 2012, the court ruled that Motorola’s patent is invalid. The court also ruled that the patent, even if valid, would be licensed under the grant-back clause in Google’s ActiveSync license. Motorola appealed and the appeals court affirmed the lower court’s ruling in Microsoft’s favor in November 2013. Motorola has sought to appeal that decision.

Other patent and intellectual property claims

In addition to these cases, there are approximately 70 other patent infringement cases pending against Microsoft.


We also are subject to a variety of other claims and suits that arise from time to time in the ordinary course of our business. Although management currently believes that resolving claims against us, individually or in aggregate, will not have a material adverse impact on our financial statements, these matters are subject to inherent uncertainties and management’s view of these matters may change in the future.

As of March 31, 2014, we had accrued aggregate liabilities of $406 million in other current liabilities and $103 million in other long-term liabilities for all of our legal matters that were contingencies as of that date. While we intend to defend these matters vigorously, adverse outcomes that we estimate could reach approximately $600 million in aggregate beyond recorded amounts are reasonably possible. Were unfavorable final outcomes to occur, there exists the possibility of a material adverse impact on our financial statements for the period in which the effects become reasonably estimable.


Other Commitments

On September 2, 2013, we announced that we entered into a definitive agreement to acquire substantially all of Nokia’s Devices and Services business, license Nokia’s patents, and license and use Nokia’s mapping services (the “Agreement”). Under the terms of the Agreement, we agreed to pay 3.79 billion (approximately $5.0 billion) to purchase substantially all of Nokia’s Devices and Services business, and 1.65 billion (approximately $2.2 billion) to license Nokia’s patents, for a total transaction price of 5.44 billion (approximately $7.2 billion) in cash. We intend to draw upon our overseas cash resources to fund the acquisition. In connection with the Agreement, on September 23, 2013, we provided Nokia 1.5 billion ($2.0 billion) of financing in the form of convertible notes, which are included in short-term investments on our balance sheet. Nokia will repay these notes from the proceeds of the acquisition upon closing. Nokia’s shareholders approved the Agreement on November 19, 2013. We expect the acquisition will close on April 25, 2014.