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Microsoft Enters Legal Agreements with Novell, CCIA

Microsoft this week reached legal and financial settlements with two of its most vocal antitrust critics -- Novell and the Computer & Communications Industry Association.

The legal agreement with Novell cost Microsoft $536 million. Novell will release its antitrust claims under U.S. and all other national and state laws and withdraw from participation in the European Commission's case with Microsoft.

Microsoft, meanwhile doesn't admit wrongdoing and isn't obligated to license or share technology or intellectual property rights. Microsoft will restate its first quarter earnings to account for the settlement costs.

Legal wrangling between the two companies isn't completely over. Under the deal, Novell retained the right to continue to pursue its antitrust claims arising from its ownership of WordPerfect between June 1994 and March 1996. Novell, of course, also reserves the right to sue over any future Microsoft practices the company views as illegal.

There also appears to be no honeymoon of the type displayed between Microsoft and Sun Microsystems earlier this year. Even as the lawyers were putting the finishing touches on the legal agreement last week, Novell issued a specific, point-by-point rebuttal of Steve Ballmer's executive e-mail against Linux. (View Novell document).

At the same time, Microsoft reached a deal with longtime critic, the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA). In addition to membership fees, Microsoft will reimburse the CCIA for some of the legal expenses the association has incurred over the last decade and provide institutional support for some CCIA policy undertakings.

The CCIA agreed not to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the District Court's Final Judgment in the United States v. Microsoft antitrust case and not to participate as an intervener on behalf of the European Commission in Microsoft's appeal of the commission's March 24 antitrust decision.

Ed Black, president and CEO of CCIA, said, "While there may be times when we and Microsoft will not agree on every issue, we are looking forward to developing a stronger relationship." Black said the CCIA has an opportunity to unite the industry on issues such as broaden Internet access, strong support for R&D and making technology a more effective engine for worldwide economic growth.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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