Microsoft's Ballmer: Symantec suit won't delay Vista release

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Microsoft’s chief executive said today that he doesn’t expect a lawsuit filed by Symantec against the software giant to delay next year’s planned release of the Vista operating system.

CEO Steve Ballmer, speaking after a news conference in Beijing, told Reuters the suit will not affect the Vista launch, already delayed until January 2007 because of quality control concerns.

"I wouldn’t anticipate any, but that will go to the courts now," Ballmer told Reuters.

Symantec filed the suit last week, accusing Microsoft of misappropriating technology related to a 1996 licensing agreement with Veritas. Symantec acquired Veritas last year.

The court order would cease any development or sale by Microsoft of technology related to the former Veritas software.

Symantec said in a statement Thursday that "Microsoft gained access to the misappropriated technology by licensing volume management technology from Veritas, and then violated the clear terms of the license agreement by using that technology to develop competing features and products. The complaint also states that Microsoft improperly incorporated that technology into its operating system products, including Vista."

The suit also alleges that Microsoft wrongfully claimed to have invented product features provided by Veritas.

"The lawsuit aims to stop Microsoft’s misappropriation and misuse of Symantec’s intellectual property, and seeks the removal of all such intellectual property from Microsoft operating system products. It also seeks proper compensation for the harm Microsoft has caused to Symantec," a statement from Symantec said.

Microsoft said the lawsuit stems from a "very narrow disagreement over the terms of a 1996 contract with Veritas to license volume management technology."

"These claims are unfounded because Microsoft actually purchased intellectual property rights for all relevant technologies from Veritas in 2004," a statement from the Redmond-based software giant said. "Microsoft first entered into a contract with Veritas in 1996 to license volume management technology. The contract ultimately gave Microsoft the option to buyout the rights to Veritas’ code and intellectual property rights."

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