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Lawsuit claims Xbox 360 system scratches discs

SEATTLE: A man who claims Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 scratches game discs has sued the company, saying the consoles are "negligently designed and manufactured."

In the lawsuit filed Monday in a Florida federal court, Jorge Brouwer says Microsoft has received thousands of complaints but has not replaced all scratched discs. The lawsuit seeks class-action status.

Brouwer said his Xbox 360 scratched two games, "Gears of War" and "Madden NFL 07," and that Microsoft offered to replace them for a $20 (€14.63) fee. He is seeking more than $5 million (€3.66 million) in damages, according to the court filing.

Last week, Microsoft extended the warranty for the Xbox 360 consoles that completely stop working due to a vague condition the company calls "general hardware failure." This is a separate issue from the scratched discs, though Brouwer's lawsuit cited it as evidence Microsoft "is well aware that the Xbox 360 console has been defective since its introduction to the marketplace."

Microsoft denied the allegations.

"Out of the millions of Xbox consoles in use, Microsoft has not received any widespread reports of Xbox 360s scratching discs," spokesman Jack Evans said in a statement.

Evans did not clarify what number of reports would qualify as "widespread."

Some gamers speculate that moving the console between vertical and horizontal positions while a disc is spinning inside could cause the scratching. Microsoft warns against such actions with a sticker placed on new consoles, and Brouwer said in the lawsuit that Microsoft's customer service representatives asked him if he had tilted the console. He said he had not.

The lawsuit also cites investigations of similar consumer complaints conducted by a Dutch television program, which found that one of nine consoles tested scratched a disc after five hours of play.

Brouwer's lawyer, Jeffrey Ostrow, said he found reports of the Dutch TV tests on Wikipedia, the free online information source whose accuracy has repeatedly come under fire.

Ostrow said he has not confirmed the Wikipedia entry.

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