Best Buy, Microsoft racketeering lawsuit comes back

A seven-year-old case against Microsoft and Best Buy has come back to light, alleging that the two companies conspired to activate premium MSN accounts for unknowing customers who purchased new computers.

Specifically, the two defendants are accused of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, the same crime attributed to numerous street gangs and dirty cops.

The plaintiff, James Odom, says that when he bought a new computer at Best Buy he was signed up for a trial version of MSN’s Internet service without his consent. After the trial period expired his credit card was charged for the regular monthly rate. He claims he didn’t even use the trial software.

Moreover, the suit alleges that "Microsoft invested $200 million in Best Buy and agreed to promote Best Buy’s online store through its MSN service," in exchange for deceptively enrolling customers into its online service. In 2003, Microsoft started offering refunds for affected customers, officially ending its partnership with Best Buy, according to Bloomberg News.

The case, which was first brought forth in 2000, was dismissed years ago, but late last week a federal court overruled the earlier judgment and put the case back on the docket.