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4/3/2008
12:33 PM
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Symantec, Microsoft Settle Windows Suit

The case centered on storage management technology Microsoft had licensed from vendor Veritas, which was integrated into Windows.

After nearly two years and hundreds of documents filed on both sides, Microsoft and Symantec have settled a dispute over whether Microsoft misappropriated Symantec data storage technology in Windows and even received patents based on Symantec inventions.

Microsoft and Symantec declined to discuss details of the settlement, which occurred out of court. The two companies met to mediate the dispute last month, and filed a motion to dismiss the suit on in the U.S. District Court in Seattle on Tuesday, which was granted Wednesday.

"Microsoft and Symantec are pleased to have amicably resolved this dispute in a manner that reaffirms and extends our technical cooperation on volume management technologies," both companies said in a short statement. "This agreement will produce significant benefits for our many mutual customers using mission-critical storage software technologies."

The case centered on storage management technology Microsoft had licensed from vendor Veritas, which was later purchased by Symantec for $13.5 billion. The agreement between Microsoft and Veritas allowed Microsoft to integrate a limited version of the technology into Windows, with the understanding that Microsoft wouldn't develop any competing products.

Symantec argued that Microsoft later breached the terms of the agreement by integrating features based on additional Veritas technology into Windows and hiding it from Veritas, as well as developing competing storage management technology for Windows Vista and Server 2008 that Symantec said included proprietary algorithms. Symantec also claimed that Microsoft had then gotten patents for some of these technologies, which Symantec said were built using Veritas intellectual property.

Symantec originally sought to prevent Microsoft from continuing to develop or sell the operating systems that became known as Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, pay Symantec unspecified damages and even recall all offending software.

In a counter-claim, Microsoft had argued that Veritas had failed to live up to its end of the bargain by not doing critical engineering work to make the products compatible, which had made the Veritas code included in Windows 2000 "among the buggiest and least reliable" in the entire operating system

Microsoft also argued that Veritas was out to "realize the marketing benefits of the Windows/Microsoft name." Microsoft said that not only did Microsoft not include Veritas trade secrets in Windows, but solved problems Veritas' technology could not and that Veritas infringed on Microsoft patents. A few of those claims, along with some of Veritas' patent claims, were thrown out of court in February.

The Microsoft-Symantec case is separate from a battle Symantec and McAfee waged on Microsoft for closing access that security software had previously had to the Windows kernel. Complaints to regulators spurred changes in Windows Vista SP1 that would re-open that access.

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