Commitments and contingencies

Notes to Financial Statements


Yahoo! Commercial Agreement

On December 4, 2009, we entered into a 10-year agreement with Yahoo! whereby Microsoft will provide the exclusive algorithmic and paid search platform for Yahoo! Web sites.

Microsoft has provided Yahoo! with revenue per search guarantees for a period of 18 months after implementation of the Microsoft search ads platform in each country, extended by an additional 12 months for the U.S. and Canada. These guarantees are calculated, paid, and adjusted periodically.

These are rate guarantees and not guarantees of search volume. We estimate the remaining cost of the revenue per search guarantees during the guarantee period could range up to $150 million.

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

The changes in our aggregate product warranty liabilities, which are included in other current liabilities and other long-term liabilities on our balance sheets, were as follows:


(In millions)             

Three Months Ended September 30,    2011     2010  

Balance, beginning of period

   $   172      $   240   

Accruals for warranties issued

     12        13   

Settlements of warranty claims

     (18     (39


Balance, end of period

   $ 166      $ 214   



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 or reached settlements of all claims that have been made to date in the United States.

All settlements in the United 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, 2011, we have recorded a liability related to these claims of approximately $538 million, which reflects our estimated exposure of $1.9 billion less payments made to date of approximately $1.4 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. On April 15, 2011, the British Columbia Court of Appeal reversed the class certification ruling and dismissed the case, holding that indirect purchasers do not have a claim. The plaintiffs have sought review by the Canadian Supreme Court. The other two actions have been stayed.

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. 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. The court of appeals has reversed that ruling, and trial on the case began in October 2011.


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. 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 court of appeals 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 was held in July 2011 and the jury awarded Alcatel-Lucent $70 million. Microsoft has filed a motion for judgment as a matter of law and a motion for a new trial.

In October 2003, Uniloc USA Inc. (“Uniloc”), a subsidiary of a Singapore-based company, filed a patent infringement suit in U.S. District Court in Rhode Island, claiming that product activation technology supporting 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 findings either that Microsoft infringed the patent or was willful. Uniloc appealed, and in January 2011 the court of appeals reversed the district court’s finding of non-infringement (thus reinstating the jury verdict of infringement) but affirmed the district court’s ruling that Microsoft was not willful and affirmed the district court’s grant of a new trial on damages. Uniloc’s petition for rehearing of the court of appeals’ decision as to damages was denied. A new trial on damages has been set for January 2012.

In October 2010, we filed suit against Motorola with the International Trade Commission (“ITC”) and in U.S. District Court in Washington for infringement of nine Microsoft patents by Motorola’s Android-based devices. Since then, Microsoft and Motorola have filed additional actions against each other in the ITC and federal courts in Washington, Wisconsin, Florida, California and Germany. Microsoft asserts Motorola’s Android-based devices violate 25 of its patents, and Motorola asserts various Microsoft products (including Windows, Windows Phone 7, Windows Mobile 6.5, Xbox, Bing Maps, Hotmail, Messenger, and Exchange Server) violate 25 Motorola patents. Microsoft also claims Motorola has breached its contractual commitments to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (“IEEE”) and International Telecommunications Union (“ITU”) to license identified patents related to wireless and video coding technologies under reasonable and non-discriminatory (“RAND”) terms and conditions. In the case pending in California, Motorola asserts that Microsoft breached contractual commitments to the SD Card Association to license two patents under RAND terms and conditions, and asserts federal antitrust and state unfair business practice claims. Trial in our ITC case took place in August 2011, and the administrative law judge’s initial determination is pending. Trial in Motorola’s ITC case is set for October 2011. All of the cases pending in Wisconsin and Florida, with the exception of one currently stayed case in Wisconsin, have been transferred to the Western District of Washington. The lawsuits filed in Germany by Motorola and Microsoft all allege patent infringement. Our German action against Motorola is scheduled for trial in December 2011, and Motorola’s German actions against Microsoft are set for trial in January and March 2012.

In addition to these cases, there are approximately 65 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 September 30, 2011, we had accrued aggregate liabilities of $708 million in other current liabilities and $284 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 $820 million 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.