Microsoft and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) agreed late Friday that they won't oppose the nine nonsettling states' and the District of Columbia's bid to introduce an extra complaint in Microsoft's antitrust case. The nonsettling states believe that Microsoft is abusing its proposed DOJ settlement by issuing new Windows licenses that could potentially let the company steal PC makers' intellectual property. Because the public-comment period has already ended for the Microsoft settlement, the states need the court's permission to introduce this new complaint.

The DOJ, however, has only grudgingly given its agreement to the request, asking that the states not attempt to introduce any new evidence or appear at the March 6 settlement hearing. "As the Tunney Act provides no basis for grafting a collateral remedy hearing onto this settlement proceeding, further attempts generally by the nonsettling states or other third parties to import information or evidence from that case into this Tunney Act proceeding would be inappropriate," the DOJ said in a filing submitted Friday.

Microsoft also agreed not to fight the states' complaint, although the company noted that the intellectual property language in the new PC-maker license is unrelated to hardware (as some PC makers claimed) and has, in fact, been in effect for almost 5 years.