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A San Francisco Superior Court judge has ordered the rejection of claims in the California class-action settlement with Microsoft Corp. that were submitted through a Inc. Web site.

The judge’s order, made on Dec. 22 and announced on Thursday by Microsoft Corp., marks the end of an effort by San Diego-based to promote the use of its Web site for the submission of consumer claims in the $1.1 billion settlement. and Microsoft have waged a war of words in recent months over whether claims submitted through the site were valid. launched the site in September and offered immediate access to the desktop Linux operating system and other software that competes with Microsoft if the users would qualify for between $50 and $100 in settlement vouchers. It also promised a free network PC to the first 10,000 people to buy $100 in software.

Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., argued that the process violated terms of the class-action settlement, reached in January 2003. In November, Microsoft asked Judge Paul H. Alvarado to reject settlement claims submitted through

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What Judge Alvarado had to say

“We are pleased with the judge’s decision and remain committed to implementing this settlement,” said Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake, in a statement.

In his order, Alvarado ruled that claims filed through and its site were invalid and that the only authorized settlement Web site is, operated by claims administrator Rust Consulting Inc. Rust must request the names and mailing addresses of those who submitted claims through the site and mail them information on submitting paper claims. CEO Michael Robertson said that his company will not turn over the names of about 15,000 consumers who have submitted claims totaling about $1 million. Instead, the company next week will notify those consumers itself about the judge’s decision.

Robertson criticized the ruling and said the official settlement Web site provides no way for consumers to file claims electronically, instead requiring a lengthy paper-based process.

“The losers here are the consumers,” he said. “By not putting [the claims process] online, an enormous number of people will not take advantage of the settlement, and Microsoft will get to keep a big chunk of the money.”

However, Microsoft said that the settlement includes a far-reaching process for notifying California consumers about how to submit claims. Consumers can use their portion of the settlement to buy non-Microsoft software and hardware, including products from, Drake said.

Meanwhile, and Microsoft also are embroiled in a legal battle over trademark infringement. Microsoft has claimed that the Lindows name violates its Windows trademarks.

A U.S. case is expected to go to trial early this year. A Swedish court has ordered a temporary injunction against pending the outcome of a lawsuit there.