Microsoft, AT&T reach tentative settlement in source code suit

Microsoft and AT&T have reached a preliminary settlement in a lawsuit AT&T filed last October seeking access to the Windows NT 5.0 source code. The two companies will not say whether Microsoft must relinquish the source code or pay AT&T. AT&T claimed Microsoft breached a 1991 contract between the two companies when it didn't provide AT&T with the NT code, which AT&T said it needed to upgrade its Advanced Server for Unix.

Microsoft and AT&T have reached a preliminary settlement in a lawsuit AT&T filed last October seeking access to the Windows NT 5.0 source code.

Spokesmen for the two companies have declined to disclose specifics of the settlement, including whether Microsoft must relinquish the source code or pay AT&T.

AT&T filed suit in US District Court in New Jersey, claiming that Microsoft breached a 1991 contract between the two companies when it didn't provide AT&T with the NT operating system source code. AT&T contended that it needed the code to upgrade its Advanced Server for Unix, which is software allowing users to run Windows and Unix applications on one platform.

AT&T's lawsuit also alleged intentional interference with a potential business advantage.

The preliminary agreement, technically called a "settlement in principle" will not be finalized until Microsoft and AT&T nail down remaining details in the case, said AT&T spokesman Kevin Compton.

"They're still talking," he said of the companies.

A court order entered July 30 gave the companies 60 days to either settle the case or to reopen it, Compton said. But he was not certain if that meant that the settlement also would go into effect September 30.

The terms of the settlement agreement are to remain confidential, Compton said.

Although the settlement does appear to be a work in progress, Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan provided what seemed a more definitive statement on the lawsuit: "We are pleased to have this issue behind us," he said, adding that the settlement is "agreeable to both sides."

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