Microsoft settles unfair trade practices lawsuit

After being ordered last year to pay nearly US$5 million in damages and other costs to Bristol Technology Inc., Microsoft Corp. has now agreed to settle a lawsuit filed against it three years ago by the software vendor.

Microsoft and Bristol today jointly announced that the unfair trade practices suit is being settled. The terms of the settlement deal weren't disclosed, but the companies said all of their claims against each other are being dismissed with prejudice, preventing the lawsuit from being revived at a later date.

Dan Neault, director of business development for Microsoft's platforms group, said as part of the announcement that executives at the company "are pleased to reach this agreement in order to put this matter behind us once and for all." In a similar vein, Bristol CEO Keith Blackwell said he "is very pleased with the conclusion of this litigation."

The settlement deal follows a November ruling in which US District Court Judge Janet C. Hall ordered Microsoft to pay $3.73 million in attorneys' fees and other legal costs to Bristol. That was in addition to $1 million in punitive damages that Hall imposed against Microsoft last September.

A jury originally awarded Bristol just $1 in damages, but Hall ruled that the company deserved more money from Microsoft. A Bristol spokeswoman today said the settlement deal goes beyond the monetary awards ordered by the judge. "There is other relief covered by the settlement," the spokeswoman said, declining to provide specific details.

Bristol, which develops software that lets Windows applications run on Unix and other operating systems, filed the suit against Microsoft in 1998 in the Bridgeport, Connecticut federal court. The suit charged that Microsoft sought to block Bristol's access to the Windows application programming interfaces and source code.

The jury that heard the case cleared Microsoft of antitrust violations against Bristol but found that the software giant had violated Connecticut's Unfair Trade Practices Act.

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