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Microsoft Revises Protocol Licensing Program in Antitrust Case
Microsoft Revises Protocol Licensing Program in Antitrust Case

(April 22, 2003) - As a part of the settlement and final judgment in its antitrust case with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and a number of State Attorneys General in November 2001, Microsoft has changed the way it licenses elements of its Windows client/server intellectual property - called protocols - to other companies for use in their server products to interoperate with certain Windows clients.

The Microsoft Communications Protocol Program (MCPP) was released in August 2002, and several companies have licensed various protocols since that time, under the terms of the settlement. But some companies complained about the way the licensing was handled, and the Justice Department, after "careful review" requested revisions. In the coming weeks, Microsoft will announce and implement an additional set of proposed changes that will further simplify entry to, and participation in, the program.

"The proposed changes, which will be available shortly, will have the effect of greatly simplifying the agreement process, and modifying aspects of the royalty structure that will open this program to a wider range of businesses," says Microsoft senior vice president Brad Smith.

With these changes, Microsoft would publish virtually all information about the program, including sample license documents and brief summaries of each of the protocols, on a Web site that anyone can view. Previously, companies were required to complete standard non-disclosure agreements in order to receive much of this information before licensing. Companies and individuals will continue to be required to protect any intellectual property that they license.

Microsoft says it is also working to revise the program's license agreements to make them simpler and more streamlined, and hopes to reduce the initial costs licensees pay in order to participate in the program.

Once proposal details are finalized, Microsoft will make the new agreements, program details and actual protocol royalty information available to the public on its Web site.

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