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MS settles Bristol antitrust case out of court

We'd be the last to suggest 'here's some money if you shut up'

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Microsoft seems to have successfully "disappeared" the Bristol antitrust suit. A tersely uninformative joint release issued today says that the two companies have reached agreement to settle their ongoing legal dispute.

And that, folks, is that. Bristol is pleased, but does not quantify its pleasure in financial terms. Microsoft is pleased, because the company "always prefers to focus our time and efforts on listening to customers and developing great software, and this settlement will help us to do that."

We think what Redmondite Dan Neault means by that second bit is that not being sued by Bristol leaves the company more space to focus on etc etc, rather than that agreement to do this is specifically written into the deal with Bristol. But yes, that name does ring a bell. During the trial, 18 months ago, Bristol insisted that the Microsoft "friends and enemies" list approach to outfits like Bristol was initiated by one Dan Neault. Somebody dishing out quote assignments in Redmond has a sense of humour, maybe?

Today's release notes that the trial itself found in favour of Microsoft on all antitrust claims, and in favour of Bristol on another count, which was minor. It further notes that more recently the Federal District Court awarded Bristol punitive damages, but then the trail fades out.

We're unlikely, short of serious leaks, to get anything like a full picture of the deal the two companies have done. However, that punitive damages award (last November) is a fair signpost. Microsoft's exoneration in the trial itself was almost entirely due to a screw-up in jury direction, and the damages, together with other signals from the judge, seemed to lay open the possibility of Bristol being allowed a rematch.

The settlement means that won't happen, and one can therefore infer that Bristol has done well financially and/or contractually out of it.

In the matter of the other major disappeared suit, incidentally, we're pleased to see that drdos.com, which was MIA last time we looked a few months back, is indeed in business, and still the home of documentation from the Caldera case. It's not obviously accessible from the front door, but just nip over here for the big pile of stuff. ®

Related stories:
MS trial hell will never end: Bristol verdict turns to dust
MS could still be found guilty in Bristol antitrust case
MS Death List II - enemies scheme was live

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