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Federal Judge Orders Sony and Microsoft to Arbitration

Sunday, November, 6, 2016

Sony’s request to arbitrate the claims filed against it by Microsoft regarding antitrust laws has been approved by a federal judge. The claims involve lithium ion batteries. Sony had requested the case be tossed because the claims were moot, but the judge refused to do so, instead agreeing that arbitration could be used to resolve the matter.


The dispute arose in June 2015 when Microsoft accused Sony, Panasonic, and other firms of price fixing on lithium ion batteries for more than 10 years. The suit is part of a larger class action that is pending in a Northern District of California court. Sony was the first defendant to settle antitrust claims in the multidistrict litigation in September for $19 million.


The Microsoft lawsuit claims the company paid more than necessary for batteries when it purchased Nokia in 2013. Sony requested Microsoft arbitrate its claims, citing the product purchase agreement in the Nokia deal, which contains an arbitration clause. Microsoft wanted a judge to determine the arbitrability of the dispute and stated the claims predated the agreement and arbitration should not be requested because the deal wasn’t retroactive. The company claimed at a hearing in August that Sony backdated the arbitration agreement to July 2000, even though it was executed in October 2001, claiming the agreement essentially “didn’t exist.”


The recent ruling, according to the judge over the need to arbitrate was based on International Chamber of Commerce Rules and stated, “The parties' incorporation of the ICC rules in the arbitration provision constitutes a clear and unmistakable delegation of the question of arbitrability here to an arbitrator, rather than the court.”