In a situation with parallels to the post-election presidential contest, the Vanguard Group of Malvern, Pa., moved a step closer late last month to issuing its VIPER's exchange-traded share class by winning SEC approval to issue the shares. But the product's final approval still hinged on a pending lawsuit.

The dispute between Vanguard and S&P began last May when Vanguard announced it would issue an exchange-traded share class on five of its index funds, including its popular S&P 500 Index fund. Soon after, McGraw-Hill Companies of New York filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging Vanguard had breached its licensing agreement that covered the use of the name and index of its subsidiary, Standard & Poor's of New York, by extending the agreement to include VIPER shares.

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