Microsoft has begun the process of updating the terms of service for its consumer products and services to prevent users from forming class-action suits against the software giant. The policy change, detailed in a post on the Microsoft on the Issues blog, puts a greater focus on private settlements and small claims courts as a means of settling consumer complaints, which could save the company millions compared to a punitive judgment in a jury trial, such as the Redmond company had to pay in the i4i patent-infringement case.
Microsoft has already updated the user agreement for Xbox Live to put the new policy in place, and the company’s other offerings are expected to receive the updated policy in the coming months. The new policy is made possible by a 2011 Supreme Court ruling, AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion (pdf), which allows companies to settle complaints privately or in small claims court and gives companies greater power to avoid class-action lawsuits.
The blog post notes that Microsoft will provide “generous” arbitration provisions to any customers with complaints. The company will permit arbitration wherever a customer lives, reimburse filing fees, and pay customers’ attorney fees in the event that arbitration is decided in favor of the complainant.