Microsoft has reached anti-trust settlements with Novell and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), ending years of legal wrangling, it announced today.

The settlement with CCIA ends an eight-year investigation and anti-trust case brought by the US Department of Justice. The CCIA was the final group challenging a November 2002 settlement ruling by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.

Novell and CCIA were also two major Microsoft opponents in an anti-trust case before the European Commission. RealNetworks is the last remaining company with a broad-based complaint in the European Commission case, although the Free Software Foundation and other groups continue to be part of that case, said Brad Smith, general counsel for Microsoft.

The agreement with CCIA "removes the most substantial obstacle" to a settlement in the European case, Smith said. "We believe this sends a strong message that we and other companies in our industry do have the capacity now to sit down face to face and resolve the kinds of thorny anti-trust issues that in the past were left instead to the government to resolve," he said.

Microsoft will pay Novell $536 million under the agreement, in which Novell will resolve all anti-trust claims relating to Novell's NetWare product, and any other products it owns. The agreement came out of private mediation between the two companies, according to a joint news release. The payment to Novell brings the total amount of anti-trust settlements Microsoft has paid to just under $3 billion, Smith said.

Novell will end its anti-trust claims under US and all other national and state laws concerning its products. Novell will also withdraw from participation in the European Commission’s case with Microsoft and will no longer participate as an intervener on behalf of the European Commission in Microsoft’s appeal of the commission’s 24 March ruling.

Microsoft will also end its counterclaims to those anti-trust claims regarding NetWare. The agreement does not obligate Microsoft to license or otherwise share any of its technology or intellectual property rights with Novell, nor does it include any admission of wrongdoing by Microsoft.

"These agreements represent another substantial milestone in Microsoft resolving the issues that have divided our industry over the past decade," Smith said. "Today's settlement means that the long-standing anti-trust litigation in the US is now over. The litigation phase is now complete."

The two companies were not able to reach agreement concerning Novell’s anti-trust claims related to its ownership of the WordPerfect word-processing software package between June 1994 and March 1996. Novell retains the right to pursue those claims, and the company announced Monday that by the end of the week, it will file a lawsuit in Utah seeking unspecified damages related to WordPerfect.

The anti-trust agreement "settles some potential litigation to our advantage", said Novell spokesman Hal Thayer in an interview. "We think this is very straightforward."

Microsoft restated its first-quarter results to compensate for the settlement. As part of the CCIA settlement, Microsoft will join the trade group. The company will also pay CCIA for some legal expenses for some cases in the past decade.

CCIA agreed not to ask the US Supreme Court to review its challenge to the anti-trust settlement in the US Department of Justice's case. It has also agreed that it will no longer participate as an intervener on behalf of the European Commission and will withdraw its complaint with the European Commission. Specific financial terms of the agreement are confidential.

The CCIA, in a press release, said the settlement allows the trade group to focus its resources on other issues facing the industry.

"While there may be times when we and Microsoft will not agree on every issue, we are looking forward to developing a stronger relationship," Ed Black, head of the CCIA, said. "We believe that CCIA has an important opportunity to help unite the industry more effectively on key issues such as broadened Internet access, strong support for R&D, and ensuring that we act as an effective engine for economic growth around the world."