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RealTime IT News

Microsoft Settles Antitrust Charges With Novell

Microsoft cleared more legal cases off its plate Monday by settling with Novell and the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) over antitrust and other charges.

In return for $536 million from Microsoft, Novell said it would withdraw its intervention role in the European Commission's antitrust case with Microsoft, which is currently under appeal.

The dispute involved Novell's NetWare product, which competes with Microsoft's Windows in the enterprise.

However, Novell also announced it would sue Microsoft in federal court this week regarding WordPerfect, the document program that competes with Microsoft Word.

Microsoft didn't say how much it intends to pay the CCIA in its settlement, saying only "substantial infrastructure support" will be forthcoming in the future. With the settlement, however, the CCIA is expected to not only withdraw from the EU case against Microsoft, but will also drop its plans to appeal Microsoft's landmark antitrust settlement with the U.S. to the Supreme Court.

Brad Smith, Microsoft's senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary, said the company considered five companies to be the prime motivators for the EU's antitrust suit, which began in 1998. They were: AOL , Sun Microsystems , Novell, CCIA and Real Networks .

With more settlements now behind it, the company said it's time to put an end to governments' involvement in areas the business community can solve.

"We believe that this sends a strong message that we and other companies in our industry do have the capacity now to sit down face to face and resolve the thorny antitrust issues that in the past were left instead to the government to resolve," Smith said in a press conference Monday morning. "We think that's important in Europe, as well as the United States."

In March, the EU found Microsoft guilty of abusing its Windows monopoly and fined it $613 million. It also ordered the company to remove Windows Media Player from its operating system. The EU's decision is currently under appeal.

With payments of $750 million to AOL, $700 million to Sun (the antitrust payout from a $1.5 billion settlement), $536 million to Novell and $1 billion reserved to settle the state-sponsored class-action lawsuits against the company, Microsoft said it expects to pay another $950 million to resolve other anti-trust cases. That could including a lawsuit over its media player software by rival Real Networks.



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