Report: Microsoft, Real Networks close to settlement

Microsoft Corp. and RealNetworks Inc. are close to settling a long-running antitrust lawsuit against the U.S. software giant in a settlement deal valued at about US$750 million, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Under terms of the settlement, which could still collapse, Microsoft would provide a combination of cash and promotions for RealNetworks’ music and game services through Microsoft’s online services and software, and the two companies would collaborate on technology initiatives in he future, according to the report.

RealNetworks filed its antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft in December 2003, alleging that Microsoft used its Windows operating systems dominance to restrict RealNetworks’ position in the market for media software for the PC.

The lawsuit claimed that Microsoft forced PC manufacturers to include its Windows Media Player while at the same time placing restrictions on how competing players may be installed.

RealNetworks initially claimed damages in excess of $1 billion.

Microsoft has already settled or resolved many of the big antitrust suits filed against it. Last April, the company paid Sun Microsystems Inc. $1.6 billion to settle charges against it. Before that, it paid the former America Online Inc. $750 million to settle an antitrust complaint brought by AOL’s Netscape division.

Microsoft is currently appealing an antitrust ruling against it by the European Commission.

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