Microsoft has agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to a small US software maker which accused the Redmond giant of stifling competition.
Bristol Technology sued Microsoft in August 1998 claiming that it tried to discount a previous agreement allowing the smaller company to view part of the source code for Windows NT.
A US district court later ruled in favour of Microsoft on all antitrust allegations but upheld Bristol's claim of unfair trade practices, and ordered the software giant to pay $3.7m in legal fees and a further $1m in punitive damages.
Keith Blackwell, chief executive at Bristol, which developed the Wind/U tool that allows Windows-based software to run on non-Microsoft platforms such as Unix, said the settlement is great news for the industry. "Bristol is very pleased with the conclusion of this litigation," he said.
In a statement, Microsoft said: "We are pleased to reach this agreement in order to put this matter behind us once and for all."
The settlement comes less than two weeks before a federal appeals court is scheduled to hear Microsoft's challenge to a lower court ruling for it to be broken in two.
Federal antitrust investigators are also looking into whether Microsoft's investment in Corel reduces competition in the market for word processing and spreadsheet applications.
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