Commitments and contingencies


Notes to Financial Statements

NOTE 13    COMMITMENTS AND GUARANTEES

Yahoo! Commercial Agreement

On December 4, 2009, we entered into a definitive agreement with Yahoo! whereby Microsoft will provide the exclusive algorithmic and paid search platform for Yahoo! Web sites. The term of the agreement is 10 years subject to termination provisions after five years based on performance.

Microsoft provided Yahoo! with revenue per search guarantees for a period of 18 months after implementation of the Microsoft search ads platform in each country. These guarantees are calculated, paid and trued-up periodically based on the cumulative reduction in revenue per search, if any, during the 18 month period from pre-implementation levels, except in the case of the U.S. and Canada where performance during each of the first two calendar quarters after implementation is independent and not cumulative. This is a rate guarantee and not a guarantee of search volume. We estimate the total cost of the revenue per search guarantees during the guarantee period could range between zero and $150 million; however, no amount has been recorded for the revenue per search guarantees as we do not believe that such liability exists at this time.

Microsoft also agreed to reimburse Yahoo! for certain transition expenses incurred both before and after the effective date of the agreement.

Finally, Microsoft also agreed to reimburse Yahoo! for certain costs of running algorithmic and paid search services prior to migration to Microsoft’s platform.

 

Product Warranty

Our aggregate product warranty liabilities, which are included in other current liabilities and other long-term liabilities, changed during the three months ended September 30, 2010 as follows:

 

(In millions)       


Balance, beginning of period

   $ 240   

Accrual for warranties issued

     13   

Settlements of warranty claims

     (39


Balance, end of period

   $   214   
    



NOTE 14    CONTINGENCIES

Government Competition Law Matters

We are subject to a Consent Decree and Final Judgment (“Final Judgments”) that resolved lawsuits brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, 18 states, and the District of Columbia in two separate actions. The Final Judgments imposed various constraints on our Windows operating system businesses. The Final Judgments are scheduled to expire in May 2011.

In other ongoing investigations, various foreign governments and several state attorneys general have requested information from us concerning competition, privacy, and security issues.

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. We obtained dismissals of damages claims of indirect purchasers under federal law and in 15 states. Courts refused to certify classes in two additional states. We have reached agreements to settle all claims that have been made to date in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

The settlements in all states have received final court approval. 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. The maximum value of vouchers to be issued is approximately $2.7 billion. The actual costs of these settlements will be less than that maximum amount, depending on the number of class members and schools that are issued and redeem vouchers. We estimate the total cost to resolve all of the state overcharge class action cases will range between $1.9 billion and $2.0 billion. At September 30, 2010, we have recorded a liability related to these claims of approximately $621 million, which reflects our estimated exposure of $1.9 billion less payments made to date of approximately $1.2 billion mostly for vouchers, legal fees, and administrative expenses.

The three 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. We have appealed this ruling. The other two actions have been stayed.

Other Antitrust Litigation and Claims

In November 2004, Novell, Inc. 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. In June 2005, the trial court granted our motion to dismiss four of six claims of the complaint. In March 2010 the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Microsoft as to all remaining claims. Novell has appealed that ruling.

 

Patent and Intellectual Property Claims

In 2003, we filed an action in U.S. District Court in California seeking a declaratory judgment that we do not infringe certain Alcatel-Lucent patents (although this action began before the merger of Alcatel and Lucent in 2006, for simplicity we refer to the post-merger entity of Alcatel-Lucent). In April 2008, a jury returned a verdict in Alcatel-Lucent’s favor in a trial on a consolidated group of one video and three user interface patents. The jury concluded that we had infringed two user interface patents and awarded $367 million in damages. In June 2008, the trial judge increased the amount of damages to $512 million to include $145 million of interest. We appealed that award to the Federal Circuit. In December 2008, we entered into a settlement agreement resolving all other litigation pending between Microsoft and Alcatel-Lucent, leaving approximately $500 million remaining in dispute. In September 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the liability award but vacated the verdict and remanded the case to the trial court for a re-trial of the damages ruling, indicating the damages previously awarded were too high. Trial on the remanded damages claim has been set for the first week of December 2010.

In October 2003, Uniloc USA Inc., a subsidiary of a Singapore-based security technology company, filed a patent infringement suit in U.S. District Court in Rhode Island, claiming that product activation technology in Windows XP and certain other Microsoft programs violated a Uniloc patent. After we obtained a favorable summary judgment that we did not infringe any of the claims of this patent, the court of appeals vacated the trial court decision and remanded the case for trial. In April 2009, the jury returned a $388 million verdict against us, including a finding of willful infringement. In September 2009, the district court judge overturned the jury verdict, ruling that the evidence did not support the jury’s finding that Microsoft infringed the patent. Uniloc has appealed.

In March 2007, i4i Limited Partnership sued Microsoft in U.S. District Court in Texas claiming that certain custom XML technology in Word 2003 and 2007 infringed i4i’s patent. In May 2009, a jury returned a verdict against us, finding damages of $200 million and that we willfully infringed the patent. In August 2009, the court denied our post-trial motions and awarded enhanced damages of $40 million and prejudgment interest of $37 million. The court also issued a permanent injunction prohibiting additional distribution of the allegedly infringing technology. We appealed and the appellate court stayed the injunction pending our appeal. In December 2009, the court of appeals rejected our appeal and affirmed the trial court’s judgment and injunction, except that the court of appeals modified the effective date of the injunction to January 11, 2010. In April 2010, the court of appeals denied our request for a rehearing. In August, 2010, we filed a petition seeking review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In addition to these cases, there are approximately 40 other patent infringement cases pending against Microsoft.

Other

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 September 30, 2010, we had accrued aggregate liabilities of $870 million in other current liabilities and $375 million in other long-term liabilities for all of the contingent matters described in this note. While we intend to vigorously defend these matters, there exists the possibility of adverse outcomes that we estimate could reach approximately $1.0 billion in aggregate beyond recorded amounts. 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.