Microsoft Pays Burst.com $60m

Gets nonexclusive license to patents.

Burst.com Inc., the santa Rosa, Calif., developer of video and audio delivery software, has reached an agreement with Microsoft Corp. to settle its antitrust litigation against the Redmond, Wash., software maker.

The company last week said Microsoft had paid a one-time fee of $60 million for a nonexclusive license to Bursts international patent portfolio.

Tom Burt, a corporate vice president and deputy general counsel for Microsoft, said the license was for use only by Microsoft for its own products and did not include sublicensing rights.

"While we were confident of prevailing in this lawsuit, we have been open from the beginning to finding a reasonable way to resolve this case," Burt said.

"Securing a license to the Burst patent portfolio through this settlement allows us to focus on the continued development and deployment of Windows Media technologies to deliver the ultimate media experience to our partners and customers, he said."

The agreement ends almost three years of litigation between the two companies. Burst filed suit in June 2002, accusing Microsoft of developing its own multimedia software for moving audio and video more quickly over the Internet after discussing the technology for months with Burst. The company also claimed theft and anti-competitive behavior by Microsoft.

Last August, an attorney for Burst.com deposed Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates and said he planned to ask a judge to make the testimony public.

Microsoft has been steadily settling many of the outstanding lawsuits against it. Last April, its then chief financial officer, John Connors, told investors that Microsoft had "worked hard to clear up a substantial amount of our legal exposure," including with America Online Inc. and all but a handful of state class-action suits. "We will continue to focus on getting closure on our legal matters, but tremendous progress has been made," Connors said.

Among the settlements announced last year was a $536 million payment to end an antitrust battle with Novell Inc. and the news that Microsoft had resolved some long-standing disagreements with trade group Computer & Communications Industry Association.

In the biggest settlement announcement to date, Sun Microsystems Inc. and Microsoft last April resolved their legal issues in a $1.6 billion settlement that calls for the two companies to work together over the next 10 years.

That same month, Microsoft said it would pay multimedia anti-piracy company Intertrust Technologies Corp. $440 million for a comprehensive license to Intertrusts patent portfolio in an agreement that also resolved all outstanding litigation.

And in January 2004, SPX Corp. said Microsoft had agreed to pay $60 million to the company to settle a patent infringement lawsuit after a jury awarded SPXs software unit, Imagexpo LLC, $62.3 million in compensatory damages because it found that Microsoft had infringed on a patent for conferencing software.