Microsoft changes its legal guard

Microsoft has announced that its top legal advisor Bill Neukom, who played a lead role in the antitrust case, will retire at the...

Microsoft has announced that its top legal advisor Bill Neukom, who played a lead role in the antitrust case, will retire at the end of the financial year in mid-2002.

Neukom will be succeeded by Brad Smith, who served five years as Microsoft's deputy general counsel for worldwide sales, focusing mainly on the company's legal efforts to reduce software piracy.

Neukom has spent the last 22 years at Microsoft heading its legal team, joining the software maker after working at a law firm led by Bill Gates II, father of the Microsoft founder.

Most recently, Neukom led the company's efforts to reach a settlement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and nine of the 18 states suing Microsoft for antitrust violations. He also helped draft a settlement that would end more than 100 class action lawsuits related to alleged overpricing on Microsoft's part.

During his tenure, Neukom brought an end to Microsoft's seven-year legal dispute with Apple over intellectual property rights and also helped to come up with the 1994 consent decree that brought to a close early antitrust complaints brought by the US Federal Trade Commission, the US DoJ and the European Union.

Neukom has also stood watch over legal disputes with Sun Microsystems regarding the use of the Java programming language, a patent dispute with Priceline and a private antitrust case with Bristol Technology.

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