Microsoft Settles Suit Over Browser's Name

In an abrupt end to a civil trial that began two days ago in a Chicago courtroom, Microsoft settled claims that it stole the name of its Internet browser, Internet Explorer.

Microsoft agreed to pay $5 million to the creditors and founder of a bankrupt software company, SyNet, for the right to continue using the name. SyNet's founder, Dhiren Rana, began providing Internet access in the Chicago area four years ago with a Web browser called Internet Explorer.

The settlement must be approved by a Chicago bankruptcy court in a hearing scheduled today.

In May, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office began registration of the Internet Explorer trademark to SyNet. On Tuesday, Microsoft went to federal court to defend against civil charges that it stole the name.

"We are confident we would have won this case on the merits, but we're pleased to put this issue behind us," said Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan. "It appears the events in the courtroom helped us achieve a settlement which is in the best interest of all parties."

SyNet's creditors are expected to take $2.5 million of the settlement. Attorneys will claim about $2 million, leaving the rest for Rana, who is currently employed by Netscape Communications in Chicago. He could not be reached for comment.

Earlier, a federal judge rejected a $75,000 settlement Microsoft reached with Rana's attorneys as invalid.

The Wall Street Journal said sources estimated it would have

cost Microsoft $30 million to remove the code that displays the words "Internet Explorer" in its Windows 98 software.

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