Microsoft Wins Ruling Ending Novell Suit Over WordPerfect

Microsoft Corp. won dismissal of Novell Inc.’s antitrust lawsuit over the WordPerfect computer program.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz granted Microsoft’s request to close the case in an order issued today. A mistrial was declared in December after jurors in Salt Lake City said they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

Novell “did not present evidence sufficient for a jury to find that Microsoft committed any acts that violated” federal antitrust laws “in maintaining its monopoly in the operating systems market,” Motz wrote in his ruling.

Novell sought as much as $1.3 billion in damages over allegations that Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, while developing the Windows 95 operating system in 1994, blocked an element of the software to thwart Novell’s WordPerfect and Quattro Pro programs.

Novell is disappointed in the ruling, “still believes in the strength of its claim and we do intend to pursue an appeal,” Jim Lundberg, vice president of the company’s legal department, said in an e-mailed statement.

Novell, which was bought by Seattle-based Attachmate Corp., claimed WordPerfect’s share of the word-processing market fell to less than 10 percent in 1996 from almost 50 percent in 1990.

WordPerfect’s value dropped from $1.2 billion in May 1994 to $170 million in 1996, when it was sold to Ottawa-based Corel Corp., Novell said. Novell settled separate antitrust claims against Microsoft for $536 million in 2004.

“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,” David Howard, Microsoft deputy general counsel, said in an e-mailed statement.

The case is Novell Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., 04-01045, U.S. District Court, District of Utah (Salt Lake City).

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