Best Buy and Microsoft Get No Love From Supreme Court on Racketeering Charges

The Supreme Court ruled today that Microsoft and Best Buy would have to face a lawsuit alleging fraudulent sign-up of MSN customers, a crime that violates the Mafia-busting RICO anti-racketeering act. Here's the backstory:

In return for a $200 million strategic investment from Microsoft back in 2000, Best Buy promised to sign up customers to MSN when they bought a computer. Best Buy would grant the customer a free six-month MSN subscription, but they would use the buyer's credit card to secure the automatic re-bill of the subscription. In other words, they were transmitting customer credit cards and personal information to Microsoft. A 2003 lawsuit filed by James Odom alleged that this was, in fact, wire fraud.

The lawsuit has snowballed into a major class-action suit, with thousands of plaintiffs and potentially tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. The Supreme Court decision didn't actually rule on the case, but it did confirm the legal legitimacy of the suit. [AP/Yahoo]