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Microsoft Corp. won a major legal victory today when a federal appeals court reinstated a favorable 1994 Justice Department settlement of an antitrust case against the firm. The settlement had been rejected in February by federal judge Stanley Sporkin. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit also rebuked Sporkin for exceeding his authority. Sporkin's controversial ruling broadly condemned Microsoft's tactics as "monopolistic" and drew Justice Department fire as "an invitation to anarchy in the enforcement of antitrust law." Now, Microsoft is back where it was a year ago: "They dodged the bullet," saysTIME's Philip Elmer-DeWitt.In an interview with TIME last month, Elmer-DeWitt notes, an unworried Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said that only one serious lawsuit had ever surfaced in his firm's history: Apple Computer's unsuccessful claim that the Microsoft Windows operating system had too closely copied from the MacIntosh. Microsoft still faces afederal probe into its proposed on-line networkand agreements covering software patent infringement.