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Novell Refuses to Let WordPerfect Antitrust Suit Die

Novell settled a NetWare antitrust suit against Microsoft for $536 million. It’s hoping for another windfall

The federal judge who's been minding Novell's billion-dollar WordPerfect antitrust suit threw out its remaining claims Monday theoretically bringing the generation-old dispute dating to Windows 95 and the reign of Bill Gates to an end.

Novell however says it's going to appeal the bench ruling granting Microsoft's motion to dismiss as a matter of law.

An eight-week trial in December ended in a hung jury of 11 to one in favor of Novell.

Judge Frederick Motz said in his decision that "Although Novell presented evidence from which a jury could have found that Microsoft engaged in aggressive conduct, perhaps to monopolize or attempt to monopolize the applications market, it did not present evidence sufficient for a jury to find that Microsoft committed any acts that violated Section 2 [of the Sherman Antitrust Act] in maintaining its monopoly in the operating systems market."

Novell sued claiming Microsoft removed an API from Windows that WordPerfect and Quattro Pro needed to interoperate causing the delayed software to lose market share and ultimately forcing Novell to sell the widgetry at a $1.2 billion loss.

Judge Motz said Novell didn't complain to Microsoft - although former Novell CEO Robert Frankenberg testified he complained to Gates - and could have devised a workaround or used another Microsoft tool.

Gates testified he had the API removed to prevent Windows from crashing.

Judge Motz said no reasonable jury could find on the basis of the evidence presented at trial that anything Microsoft did caused Novell to fail.

A pro-Novell Groklaw figures Motz made a mistake. In a judgment as a matter of law, a judge isn't supposed to evaluate the evidence.

Guess we'll have to wait and see what the Tenth Circuit says.

Novell settled a NetWare antitrust suit against Microsoft for $536 million. It's hoping for another windfall.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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