updated 2/17/2006 12:39:42 PM ET 2006-02-17T17:39:42

After 2 1/2 years of legal suits and countersuits, the nation's two largest razor rivals have settled most of their differences out of court, a whisker short of the trial.

Gillette Co. and Schick Wilkinson-Sword have been waging a legal battle since Schick launched its Quattro four-blade razor in August 2003. Details of the agreement reached last week were not disclosed.

And while some differences remain, a court hearing that was just weeks away has been canceled.

"The vast majority of the differences between the two companies have been settled and we look forward to remaining vigorous competitors in the marketplace, and not in the courtroom," Gillette spokesman Eric Kraus said Friday.

A Schick spokesman said a majority of the issues have been settled, but declined further comment.

The legal skirmish began when Schick introduced its Quattro, with one more blade than Gillette's three-bladed Mach3 razor. Gillette sued in U.S. District Court in Boston, claiming any razor with three or more blades violated its patent.

Later in 2003, Schick filed a suit of its own, alleging that Gillette ads claiming its M3Power razor raised hair up and away from the skin were inaccurate. U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in Connecticut sided with Schick, prohibiting use of the TV and print ads and ordering Gillette to change packaging and remove in-store displays featuring the claims.

From there, both sides made additional claims over patent and false advertising allegations.

Gillette, acquired last year by Procter & Gamble Co., has more than two-thirds of the global razor and blade market. Schick has about 20 percent. Schick is based in Milford, Conn., and is part of St. Louis-based Energizer Holdings Inc.

In September, Gillette again upped the ante in the blade wars, introducing a new five-blade razor called Fusion.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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