Can You Agree To An EULA You Never Saw?

from the probably-not dept

Slashdot points us to an interesting article about a guy involved in a legal fight with computer maker Gateway over whether or not he agreed to an arbitration clause in an end user license agreement (EULA) for his new computer. In this case, the guy claims his computer never worked properly, so he couldn't even see the on-screen license agreement that apparently included an arbitration clause, saying that he would agree to arbitrate any dispute, rather than take it to court. He then sued Gateway over problems with the machine. The case here doesn't have anything to do with whether or not that lawsuit has merit, but whether or not it could even go to court at all. Gateway contends that the guy shouldn't be able to take them to court because of the arbitration clause. But, of course, the guy claims he couldn't read the license agreement, so he certainly never agreed to it. The court found that the guy made a compelling enough case that he had not seen the license agreement, and therefore can not be forced to go to arbitration (even as some experts suggest that he actually would be better off going to arbitration, rather than through the courts). However, it also raises the question (not answered here) over what does constitute an official agreement. I've been told by lawyers that such arbitration clauses aren't even enforceable in California, but either way, with plenty of evidence that most people never read the EULAs they agree to, could they argue that the clauses don't apply as well?

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  1. identicon
    PopeRatzo, 9 Jun 2007 @ 2:20pm

    When you realize that EULA's are made for corporations to gain advantage over their very customers, you realize just how little the supposed "Free Market" does for people. Oh, it' helps the big corporations immensely, but this supposed "Free Market" sucks for consumers.

    And there's absolutely no balance between the customers and the corporations. Transactions are no longer about satisfying a customer, but giving advantage to the corporation. There's absolutely no doubt that in this relationship, it's the corporation that's making out and the consumer is being used. The Number One political battle of the coming decades is going to be the consumer vs. corporations. Considering that the laws of all capitalist countries are designed to give all advantage to the corporations, you can bet it's going to be ugly for our side. There's going to be an anti-corporate backlash that will be much greater than the one that occurred in the first half of the 20th century, when labor unions and trust-busters were trying to teach the corporations some manners. To paraphrase the piece of scum Michael Ledeen, "Every so often the consumers have to take some corporation and slam them up against a wall..."

    We are now the consumables.

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