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Microsoft Eases Licensing Terms under Court Pressure

By Caron Carlson  |  Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Microsoft on Friday said it will make several changes to the licensing program, including giving 20 general networking protocols away for free.

WASHINGTON—To make it easier for rivals to license its communications protocols, Microsoft Corp. on Friday said it will make several changes to the licensing program, including giving 20 general networking protocols away for free and not requiring developers to visit Redmond, Wash., to evaluate the program.

The changes come as a result of continued criticism that Microsoft's compliance with a November 2002 federal anti-trust settlement agreement, particularly the protocol licensing provisions, has not led to envisioned pro-competitive results. Microsoft attorney Rick Rule announced the latest modifications to the licensing program Friday morning to U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, in a regularly scheduled meeting at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Since the settlement agreement was entered into law, Microsoft has made several adjustments to its compliance efforts, but to date the Department of Justice and the states that had joined the anti-trust litigation are not fully satisfied.

Noting that just 11 companies have chosen to license Microsoft technology through the program, Kollar-Kotelly said that the communications protocol provision of the settlement is one area that is not working as envisioned.

"It appears that this provision has not to date yielded the hoped-for results," she said, after noting that there has been general progress in compliance efforts.

Under the settlement, Microsoft agreed to license 113 communications protocols, and now 20 of those protocols will be made available without charge. According to Mary Snapp, Microsoft vice president and deputy general counsel, some of the 20 protocols are proprietary extensions to public protocols.

"They're plumbing," Snapp said. "We selected these 20 in order to make the program more attractive and simpler."

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