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Office Depot launches Y2K marketing campaign

Following a lawsuit over product compliance with Year 2000 issues, Office Depot launches a new marketing campaign to inform its customers about Y2K issues.

Following a lawsuit over product compliance with Year 2000 issues, Office Depot today launched a new marketing campaign to inform its customers about Y2K issues.

As previously reported, the lawsuit, Johnson v. Circuit City, et al., claimed that major retailers of computer software and hardware have violated the California Unfair Business Practices Act by failing to disclose to customers whether products they purchase are Y2K compliant.

Office Depot's announcement comes just days after plaintiff's lawyers in the case filed a motion for preliminary injunction. The retail store, however, decided to settle out of court following a motion to dismiss by other retailers that was denied by the federal judge.

The injunction requests that the federal court force California electronics retailers---including Fry's Electronics, Circuit City, and others--to inform consumers on the Y2K compliance status of the products that they sell.

Although Office Depot said their decision to launch the campaign had nothing to do with the case, plaintiff's lawyers welcomed the move.

"Certainly what they're now doing is above and beyond what the requirements ask the defendants to do in our case, so this is great for the consumer," said attorney Ken Jones.

Office Depot executives told CNET that they had planned to launch the new campaign before the lawsuit.

"We wanted to do it now so we could be the leader in Y2K information and resources and help our customers," said Sam Ambrose, manager of marketing and advertising at Office Depot.

The centerpiece of the campaign is a store-based Y2K Information Center, which provides brochures explaining potential problems associated with the Year 2000 bug. The literature will also offer tips to help customers prepare their homes and offices.

Office Depot will also offer a free Y2K Shopping Checklist to assist customers in selecting office products they may need to prepare for the date change, ranging from software to computer peripherals to removable storage supplies, according to the company.

As for the suit against the rest of the retailers, the plaintiff's attorney Jay Renneisen said the judge should make a decision on the injunction by the end of October.

Without merit
Though Office Depot and Fry's Electronics have settled out of court and are making various efforts to disclose Y2K information on their products, defendants Circuit City, Office Max, The Good Guys, CompUSA, and Staples assert that the case is without merit.

The defendant Tom Johnson's attorneys allege retailers have misinformed customers that all products they sell are Y2K compliant. Johnson's attorneys also allege in the suit that the retail stores have misled customers on how to fix software that is not Y2K compliant.

Under the settlement, Office Depot agreed to take certain affirmative steps to advise its current and past customers of the need to determine whether their computer systems are Y2K compliant, including providing notification in their California stores' advertising and on their Web site.