Six California counties and cities on Friday filed a class action lawsuit against Microsoft Corp. accusing the software giant of violating California law with anti-competitive business practices.

“Microsoft violated the California Business & Professions code by basically monopolizing the marketplace for personal computers sold to the government,” said Alexis Truchan, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Attorney General’s office.

Friday’s lawsuit, which was filed in Superior Court of the State of California in San Francisco, seeks the recovery of unspecified monetary damages, Truchan said.

The counties of Santa Clara, Los Angeles, San Mateo, and Contra Costa joined the City of Los Angeles and the City and County of San Francisco in filing the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is similar to an earlier class action suit filed by California consumers and settled in January 2003, Truchan said. “The consumer lawsuit restricted government entities from joining that class action, so there was a need to refile where government could be included,” she said.

Under terms of the 2003 settlement, Microsoft agreed to provide US$1.1 billion in vouchers to California consumers who purchased Microsoft products between 1995 and 2001.

Microsoft was unable to provide detailed comment on Friday’s lawsuit because its legal team had not yet had an opportunity to review the complaint, said Stacy Drake, a Microsoft spokesperson.

“We firmly believe that we have provided very competitive prices and great solutions to our customers,” she said.

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