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Microsoft settles in whiteboard patent dustup

The software giant agrees to pay $60 million and to license a plaintiff's whiteboard technology following a somewhat stiffer but not yet finalized jury verdict.

Microsoft agreed to pay $60 million and to license a plaintiff's whiteboard technology following a somewhat stiffer but not yet finalized jury verdict against the software giant.

The settlement, announced by SPX and its Imagexpo unit Wednesday, gives Microsoft the right to use technology covered under patent #5,206,934, "Method and apparatus for interactive computer conferencing."

A U.S. district court jury in Richmond, Va., on Nov. 14 had awarded SPX $62.5 million in damages after finding that Microsoft had violated the patent with its NetMeeting software. Since the court had yet to dispense with final motions in the case, the software giant still had a window of opportunity to settle the case under more favorable terms.

Microsoft has spent much of the year on the patent defensive, though the SPX verdict pales in comparison to its patent nemesis, the University of California and Eolas patent covering browser plug-in technology.

"This settlement is another step in Microsoft's efforts to resolve legal conflicts, to focus on the future, and to continue building great software," company representative Stacy Drake said Friday.

Microsoft has until Tuesday to pay the $60 million, which SPX said would be reduced by expenses associated with the lawsuit.