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Judge dismisses seven-year Novell lawsuit against Microsoft

updated 08:05 pm EST, Fri December 16, 2011

Judge says jury could not decide on Novell suit

(Update: clarification) Judge J. Frederick Motz on Friday dismissed a longstanding Novell lawsuit against Microsoft. The antitrust complaint, filed in 2004, was tossed after a jury couldn't reach a uniform verdict on whether or not Microsoft had abused its market lead by changing code that broke WordPerfect's Windows 95 support just before the 16-year-old OS arrived. Jurors said they were "hopelessly deadlocked" and didn't see any extensions of deliberations solving the problem.

Novell had sued years later and two years after a main DOJ antitrust ruling. According to its view, Microsoft had led Novell to believe WordPerfect would run on Windows 95 without much work. Changing the code not only locked WordPefect out for a crucial period but helped a gradual erosion of market share from 40 percent to under 10 percent and helped spur a decision to sell WordPerfect at a $1.2 billion loss.

Microsoft has always put the blame back on Novell, including through testimony from now ex-CEO Bill Gates. They claimed that it was slow and otherwise flawed and that Novell just hadn't moved fast enough. Gates went so far as to call Word simply "better."

The practices have largely changed at Microsoft, in part as the 2002 antitrust decision, along with later EU rulings, forced a change in policies that encouraged more interoperability and put any of Microsoft's practices under tight watch. Terms of the US decision only just expired this year.

Update: The judge dismissed a hung jury. Outside of a settlement between Novell and Microsoft, the court would pick a new jury and try the case again, considering the earlier case a mistrial.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. slapppy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2008

    +3

    MS Wins!

    What were they thinking. Everyone know that MS never does anything underhanded or behind anyones back. Everything they do is up front and honest. Even if its competing products.

  1. dimmer

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Feb 2006

    +10

    Interesting

    Reading the original article, it seems one juror just would not budge from a pro-MS stance. Weird that this becomes a deadlock isn't it? If 11 jurors agree with Novell and 1 does not it's not like a 6/6 split.

    Of course MS screwed over Novell (WordPerfect), Lotus (1-2-3), Ashton Tate (dBase), Borland and IBM by publicly stating that OS/2 and Presentation Manager were the way to go, all the while working on the Windows '95 Dos shell and their own office suite for that platform (and using their unpublished API's in their own software but denying their use to anyone else).

  1. slapppy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2008

    +5

    QuickTime

    Yep. Remember how they almost got away with trying to kill QuickTime? This time they failed with that shenanigans.

  1. FireWire

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Oct 1999

    +1

    what?

    so if an incompent and not tech-savvy jury can't reach a decision, you lose? you don't even get a second trial or anything?

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -2

    re: Interesting

    Reading the original article, it seems one juror just would not budge from a pro-MS stance. Weird that this becomes a deadlock isn't it? If 11 jurors agree with Novell and 1 does not it's not like a 6/6 split.

    No, this is how juries work. You need all 12 to find you guilty. It's that way so that the burden of proof is not on the defendant, but the claimant/prosecution.

    Of course MS screwed over Novell (WordPerfect), Lotus (1-2-3), Ashton Tate (dBase), Borland and IBM by publicly stating that OS/2 and Presentation Manager were the way to go, all the while working on the Windows '95 Dos shell and their own office suite for that platform (and using their unpublished API's in their own software but denying their use to anyone else).

    Yeah, because we know Apple would never do such a thing, like with a closed OS tied to an approval-process required app store that would make sure no one used any undisclosed APIs but not preventing their own apps from using them.

    Oh, they didn't deny use to the unpublished APIs. Just like people use/used unpublished APIs in the MacOS for years. You just take the risk if you use it.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -2

    Oh

    BTW, if you ever even used WordPerfect for Windows back then, you'd know one important thing: It blew chunks. The interface was c***. It tried to keep backward compatibility with the DOS version (down to the archaic menu commands) and was slow and bug-laden.

    And all the products that dimmer mentioned were old DOS products that never tried to redefine themselves. They took what they had and tried to move to windows. And they suffered the same fate as when a successful windows program would just try to take what they got and make it for the Mac. And you know how much those types of apps were despised.

    Oh, but I'm sure that's because of MS doing that behind the scenes and such.

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