Those who've been reading my ramblings here at for any amount of time know that I'm an investor in Akamai Technologies (NASDAQ:AKAM). I consider the company a Rule Breaker. (You can read why here if you have a subscription to Motley Fool Rule Breakers.)

Yesterday, Akamai, which specializes in speeding the delivery of content and software over the Web, announced that it had finally settled a long-standing legal dispute with former rival Digital Island, now bankrupt and known as Cable & Wireless Internet Services. The fight dates back to December 2001, when a patent lawsuit was decided in Akamai's favor, though three provisions of the patent were, at the time, determined invalid. Recently, however, a Federal District Court overturned that ruling and upheld all provisions of the patent.

Still, both victories had been more symbolic than anything else, as damages weren't agreed upon -- that is, until yesterday. Even then, investors were left wondering by the press release, which said squat about how much Akamai expects to receive. Judging from their buying today -- Akamai's stock is trading more than 3% higher as of this writing -- investors appear to think it's a material windfall. (Oops.)

Actually, it's not all that much. In an interview yesterday, Akamai spokespeople revealed that the deal is technically worth $4.5 million, but that with bankruptcy proceedings at Cable & Wireless Internet Services, the company expects to yield no more than $1.2 million in cash payments spread out over time. Even had that sum been paid in full last quarter it would have added only a penny per share in earnings.

The lesson here is simple: Don't assume. As an owner, you have the right -- nay, the obligation -- to ask questions of the management of your company. That's all I did. And now I know a little more about a firm I'm counting on to help meet my long-term financial goals. There's a word for that, folks: Foolish.

For related Foolishness:

  • Akamai caught a serious profit wave in the third quarter, dude.
  • I wish I had caught on to Akamai's curl when it was still a penny stock.
  • There have been days when I wished both PeopleSoft (NASDAQ:PSFT) and Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) had investors acting like owners.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers owns shares of Akamai and Oracle. You can view his Fool profile and other stock holdings here.