Microsoft’s Chief Legal Eagle Quits

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Fresh off of his unbelievable victories for Microsoft in the settlement offers with the DoJ and a class action law suits, Bill Neukom, Microsoftis Executive Vice President and General Counsel, has announced his departure from the company. Mr. Neukom led the defense against the DoJ in the landmark antitrust case. Just this week, the company announced a sweetheart deal of a settlement with a class action lawsuit seeking damages on behalf of Wintel lemmings who claimed Microsoft had overcharged them based on their standing as a monopoly. It is likely that settling that case was what Mr. Neukom was awaiting before leaving Microsoft.

Mr. Neukomis trial battles with the DoJ were anything but successful: the company was found to be a monopoly, a ruling that was upheld by an appeals court, and Mr. Neukom oversaw the introduction of evidence and testimony that was faked, staged, and in some cases inaccurate. Mr. Neukom lost that case, but has showed his real strengths in his ability to negotiate the settlements mentioned above. There he has shined, gaining Microsoft victory in the face of crushing defeat.

From a Reuters report:

Executive Vice President and General Counsel Bill Neukom, 60, will leave to pursue personal interests after 22 years of handling the sometimes stormy legal affairs for Microsoft. His deputy, Brad Smith, 42, will replace him, the company said.

Dana Hayter, an antitrust expert with law firm Fenwick and West of San Francisco, said Microsoftis legal team under Neukom had been most successful in defending the companyis intellectual property outside the antitrust case.

But even after Microsoft appeared outmaneuvered in the trial phase of the antitrust battle, it still managed to defend the key franchise in PC operating systems by waiting to make a deal with the Bush administration, snatching a political victory from a legal defeat, said Hayter, who worked in the Justice Department until 1997.

You can find more information on Mr. Neukom in the full Reuters article.

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