Burst, Microsoft agree to settle suit

Fight over alleged streaming-media technology theft draws to tentative close.

Software company Burst.com has agreed to a tentative $60 million settlement with Microsoft over charges that the giant had stolen its streaming media technology.

The lawsuit has been one of the most contentious of Microsoft's litigations, with Burst claiming that the software giant deliberately deleted e-mails relevant to the case. Microsoft has denied those accusations.

Burst said late Thursday that the two companies have reached an agreement "in principle" and expect to have a more formal settlement completed next week. The agreement resulted in the cancellation of a court hearing scheduled for that day.

The companies added a dollar amount to the settlement late Friday, and Microsoft said it has licensed the Burst technology.

"We spent over a decade developing and patenting the technology in anticipation of the markets that are now emerging," Burst Chief Executive Officer Richard Lang said in a statement. "With this action behind us, the company can now focus on its other opportunities."

The small company sued Microsoft in mid-2002, charging that the software giant had taken its patented technology for speedy online delivery of video without permission. Burst said Microsoft had gained access to its technology when the two companies were negotiating a business deal, which fell through.

Microsoft has settled most of the major lawsuits facing it over the past several years, including major cases against Novell, Sun Microsystems and AOL Time Warner. An antitrust case filed by RealNetworks remains outstanding.

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    John Borland
    covers the intersection of digital entertainment and broadband.
     

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