RealTime IT News

A Real Settlement With Ripple Effects?

Microsoft's antitrust settlement with RealNetworks will likely save the Redmond, Wash., software giant millions of dollars in legal fees.

The agreement means Microsoft lawyers can stop preparing for a long trial in U.S. District Court. But the company also hopes that the truce can save it money and legal hassles overseas.

As part of the settlement, Real is withdrawing its anti-competition complaints against Microsoft with European and South Korean trade regulators.

European regulators levied a record fine of $613 million last year against the company for anti-competitive practices, in large part because of the harm done to Real.

In addition, Microsoft was ordered to unbundle its Windows Media Player software from Windows in European markets, a process that continues. Just last week, the EU appointed a British computer scientist to provide technical advice and monitor the software giant's progress toward complying.

Gates was careful not to appear to be dictating to regulators, but he sounded hopeful that the settlement with Real would cause them to revisit the decision.

"It's up to the EU to choose whatever they want to do," Gates said. "Hopefully it's a positive thing from their point of view that we took whatever issues existed between the companies we were able . . . to come up with a satisfactory resolution."

In Europe at least, it appears that the case will go on. A EU spokesman told Reuters news agency late Tuesday that the action against Microsoft was brought on behalf of more than one company and that it will continue applying its sanctions.

A spokesperson for the Korean Fair Trade Commission was not immediately available for comment. Reuters said that a Real lawyer that had been testifying against Microsoft did not make an appearance today.