U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear Microsoft appeal in Xbox case

Microsoft Xbox 360 gaming console units are shown for sale at a Microsoft retail store in San Diego January 18, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Blake

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to consider Microsoft Corp's MSFT.O bid to fend off class action claims by Xbox 360 owners who contend that the videogame console has a design defect that causes game discs to be gouged.

The court will review a March 2015 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on the question of whether a lower court decision denying class certification to the plaintiffs could be challenged.

Class action lawsuits can lead to larger damages or broader remedies than individual lawsuits that can be costly to pursue.

Microsoft has sold tens of millions of Xbox 360 consoles since their 2005 launch. But owners have claimed that the console’s optical disc drive cannot withstand even small vibrations. They said this causes game discs to spin out of control and become scratched even under normal playing conditions, rendering them unplayable.

Microsoft said class certification was improper because just 0.4 percent of Xbox owners reported disc scratches, and that misuse was the cause.

In 2012, U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez in Seattle dismissed the class action claims. He relied on a 2009 ruling in a similar case in which another judge said the dearth of complaints ruled out class certification.

The case is Microsoft Corp v. Baker, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 15-457.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley. Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Will Dunham