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The settlements are likely to set a pattern for future cases.

This is a way of repricing options to make them valuable or more valuable when the option "strike price" (the fixed price at which the owner of the option can purchase stock) is fixed to the stock price at the date the option was granted.Software maker Mercury Interactive and networking company Brocade, without admitting or denying the allegations, also agreed to be permanently enjoined against further violations.In the case of Mercury, acquired by Hewlett-Packard last November, the SEC also charged four former senior officers of Mercury: former chairman and CEO Amnon Landan, CFOs Sharlene Abrams and Douglas Smith, and general counsel Susan Skaer.The SEC’s opinions regarding backdating and fraud were primarily due to the various tax rules that apply when issuing “in the money” stock options vs.the much different – and more financially beneficial – tax rules that apply when issuing “at the money” or "out of the money" stock options.

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