Novell Antitrust Suit Against Microsoft Sputters to a Close
A federal judge on Monday granted Microsoft’s motion to dismiss the suit, which claimed the software behemoth violated antitrust law by withholding key technical information required to make Novell’s WordPerfect and Quattro Pro products compatible with Windows 95. Novell had argued that Microsoft’s alleged actions kicked the legs out from under both products, forcing the company to sell them to Corel in 1996 for substantially less than their more than $1 billion purchase price.
But a fall 2011 jury trial on the matter that included testimony from Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates ended in a mistrial after jurors were unable to reach a verdict. And now the presiding judge has tossed the case outright.
“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 [antitrust laws] in maintaining its monopoly in the operating systems market,” U.S. District Judge Frederick Motz wrote in his ruling. “No reasonable jury could find, on the basis of the evidence presented at trial, that Microsoft’s [actions] caused Novell’s failure to develop its applications within 90 days of the release of Windows 95.”
A tough break for Novell, which had been seeking damages of about $1 billion. And welcome news for Microsoft, which can now clear another dusty lawsuit from its decks. Said David Howard, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, “We’ve maintained throughout this case that Novell’s arguments lack merit, and we’re gratified with today’s ruling dismissing the last of Novell’s claims and putting this matter to rest.”
In a statement, Novell said, “”While Novell is disappointed with Judge Frederick Motz’s ruling, Novell still believes in the strength of its claim and we do intend to pursue an appeal.”