- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2005

SEATTLE (AP) — Digital media company RealNetworks Inc. announced a legal settlement yesterday with longtime adversary Microsoft Corp., ending the last major antitrust case against the world’s largest software maker.

RealNetworks said it had reached three deals with Microsoft worth up to $761 million. That includes a $460 million upfront cash payment to settle the antitrust dispute. Another part of the agreement gives RealNetworks $301 million in cash and services designed to help the company’s products reach a wider audience.

In exchange, RealNetworks agreed to drop all its antitrust claims against Microsoft worldwide.

“Today we’re closing one chapter and opening a new one in our relationship with Microsoft,” said Rob Glaser, founder and chief executive officer of RealNetworks.

Seattle-based RealNetworks sued in December 2003, accusing the Redmond, Wash., company of illegally forcing Windows users to accept Microsoft’s digital media player. RealNetworks said its player suffered as a result.

RealNetworks has for years been one of Microsoft’s direct competitors in the growing field of digital music and video. But the smaller company has struggled in the face of its massive rival, which Mr. Glaser left to form RealNetworks. Both companies also have found it tough to compete against digital music’s juggernaut: the IPod digital music player from Apple Computer Inc. and the company’s ITunes online music store and jukebox software.

The settlement yesterday was the latest in a series of accords that have cost Microsoft several billion dollars in recent years but also have served to put many of the cash-rich company’s legal woes behind it.

In July, Microsoft reached an $850 million deal with IBM Corp. That followed a $1.6 billion settlement with Sun Microsystems Inc. last year and a $750 million truce with America Online, part of Time Warner Inc., in 2003.

Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake said two companies have smaller antitrust cases pending against Microsoft: hand-held pioneer Go Computer Inc., and Novell Inc., formerly a major networking software maker and now a top distributor of the Linux operating system.

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