Microsoft Moves Closer to Wiping Its Antitrust Slate Clean
By reaching antitrust settlements with two additional litigantsNovell Inc. and the Computer & Communications Industry AssociationMicrosoft Corp. has brought its cost of persuading rivals to drop lawsuits to roughly $3 billion.
The two settlements announced Monday morning likely put an end to the protracted antitrust litigation in U.S. courts first brought by the Department of Justice in 1998. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which lost an appeal of Microsofts settlement with the Justice Department, is not expected to seek a review of its appeal at the Supreme Court.
"These agreements represent another substantial milestone in Microsofts resolving the issues that have divided our industry," said Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel at Microsoft. "Todays settlement means that the long-standing antitrust litigation in the United States is over."
Microsoft paid Novell $536 million, settling all antitrust disputes except for Novells claim regarding WordPerfect, which will be resolved in court, Smith said in a conference call with reporters.
Under the settlements, both Novell and the CCIA agreed to withdraw their complaints from a case under review in the European Union. CCIA, which battled Microsoft for more than a decade, also agreed not to seek U.S. Supreme Court review of Microsofts settlement with the Justice Department. For its part, Microsoft will join CCIA, compensate the association for some legal expenses and support its lobbying efforts for federal funding of research and development, favorable immigration policies for software developers and collaboration on security and privacy matters, Smith said.
The agreement with CCIA "certainly doesnt hurt" the companys prospects for settling with the European Commission because CCIAs complaint regarding Windows XP was a principal obstacle to reaching an agreement with Europe last spring, Smith said.
Previously, Microsoft settled antitrust disputes with AOL/Time Warner for $750 million and Sun Microsystems Inc. for $700 million, which both had brought their complaints to Europe. Settling class-action cases brought by states has cost the company approximately $1 billion. Microsoft has not reached an agreement with RealNetworks Inc., which continues to pursue a court-issued resolution in Europe.
"RealNetworks is now really standing alone," Smith said, with regard to the ongoing litigation in Europe.
The Software and Information Industry Association also is participating in the case against Microsoft in Europe, but Smith said it is not playing a "broad role."
Microsoft has earmarked an additional $900 million to spend in resolving additional pending antitrust cases.
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