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Xbox 360 Disc Scratching Case Heads To U.S. Supreme Court

by Mike Futter on Jan 18, 2016 at 03:36 AM

Way back when the Xbox 360 launched, a number of console owners found out the hard way about a quirk of the design. They weren’t happy about it, and now a resulting lawsuit has reached the highest court in the United States.

The Xbox 360 is designed to sit vertically or horizontally. You just shouldn’t change position when the power is on. Doing that with a disc in the drive left many users with media scratched so badly that it became unusable. 

Microsoft has argued that the damage is due to user error and not a design problem. According to an Associated Press report, Microsoft claims that only 0.4 percent of the more than 84 million Xbox 360s in circulation (336,000) were affected.

The case, which originated in 2007, was dismissed in 2012 because there weren’t enough complaints, but that decision was overturned by a federal appeals court in March 2015. The case has reached the Supreme Court, as Microsoft is arguing that individual claims were tossed out.

This is good news for Microsoft, which stands to gain if the Supreme Court reverts to the original decision. Should the nine justices decide that the class action determination is unwarranted, the case will die. However, should they uphold the appeal decision, the class will be certified and the case will move forward.

Microsoft already suffered for the Xbox 360’s design. The infamous “Red Ring of Death” overheating problem cost the company $1 billion in warranty extensions, repairs, and replacements. While certification of a class in the disc scratching matter doesn’t mean Microsoft will ultimately lose the case, it does mean that it will spend more in legal fees to defend against it.

[Source: Associated Press via Polygon]


Our Take
This is a potent reminder that our legal system isn’t exactly speedy. This case has been lingering since 2007, and if the Supreme Court indicates that the class action is warranted, it will likely be a decade before the matter is closed entirely. There’s no doubt that Microsoft would rather be putting its focus on the Xbox One and rebuilding trust with its consumer base.