After Microsoft announced Friday morning that it was acquiring antispyware solution maker GIANT Company Software, Microsoft received a surprise from Sunbelt Software, which says it owns partial rights to GIANT's technologies. Although Sunbelt's arrangement with GIANT is still unclear, the company sells a version of Giant Spam Inspector called iHateSpam.
  
Microsoft's response was swift and designed to quell rumors that the GIANT deal would be scuttled. Friday, in a post on its Web site, Microsoft noted that Sunbelt's claims refer to an older version of Giant AntiSpyware only. "Microsoft's upcoming beta solution for spyware and any product offerings that Microsoft may subsequently deliver based on GIANT technology will be owned solely by Microsoft and in no way will be co-owned by any third party," the company said. "Antispyware solutions require definition updates--signatures of known spyware and other unwanted software--that are necessary to keep the solutions up-to-date. Because of a legal agreement between Sunbelt Software and GIANT that preceded the Microsoft acquisition, Microsoft will provide spyware signature updates to Sunbelt through July 2007."
  
Sunbelt's original claim involved any software development kits (SDKs) that GIANT--and now Microsoft--might issue so that developers can build solutions that leverage the Giant AntiSpyware technology. Microsoft says, however, that it owns the rights to any future antispyware SDKs that are built on GIANT's technology, and it hopes that giving Sunbelt access to several years of spyware signature updates will assuage Sunbelt's legal concerns. So far, talks between the two companies have been described as pleasant, with "no disagreements or disputes."
  
Part of the problem, it turns out, is that Microsoft's acquisition of GIANT came as a surprise to Sunbelt, which was a close business partner of the antispyware firm. But after Microsoft issued its statement, Sunbelt, too, was quick to downplay any potential problems, and the company has formally stated that Microsoft's ownership statements about GIANT's technologies are, in fact, correct. Sunbelt executives say they've been "impressed" with Microsoft's professionalism in this matter.
  
Since news of the GIANT deal was announced last week, I've received a lot of mail from confused readers who had never heard of the company. I've been using GIANT's antispyware product for several months and recommend it wholeheartedly. For more information about the product, the company that made it, and Microsoft's likely plans for future antispyware technologies, see my Microsoft Antispyware Preview on the SuperSite for Windows.