By acquiring the right to use InterTrust’s digital rights management (DRM) technology and settle outstanding litigation, the world’s largest software maker said that consumers and businesses will see more digital content being distributed over its Windows, Office, Media Player and other software products.
“We will be able to work with more businesses and governments, unleashing a torrent of content,” said Will Poole, the senior vice president in charge of Microsoft’s Windows desktop business.
The Redmond, Washington-based software maker has been steadily resolving its legal disputes as it faces tougher questions over its growing $53 billion cash pile, which the company has said it needs as a safeguard against its numerous legal disputes.
This month, Microsoft agreed to pay longtime rival Sun Microsystems Inc. SUNW.O $2 billion to end an antitrust battle and in March, a $600 million antitrust fine was levied on Microsoft by the European Commission.
Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox said that the legal settlements reflect the efforts of Microsoft’s chief executive, Steve Ballmer, and general counsel, Brad Smith, to put the company’s legal issues to rest.
“This current leadership is trying to get beyond these legal problems and get moving,” said Wilcox. “The one common thing in these settlements is that they all carry some benefit for Microsoft.”
The latest settlement is also a windfall for InterTrust, which is owned by an investment group led by Sony Corp. 6758.T and Philips Electronics PHG.AS and also follows on the heels of an investment Microsoft made in another digital rights technology provider ContentGuard last week.
Content providers, especially movie studios, have been reluctant to distribute their content in digital form, after seeing how digital copying and distribution have coincided with weaker CD sales.
Microsoft also says that digital rights technology has wider applications, such as protecting medical, legal and business information stored in digital form.
Under the terms of the deal, Microsoft will be able to use InterTrust’s patented technology in its products and resolves all outstanding legal action between the companies.