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Novell’s lawsuit against Microsoft dismissed

lawsuit against Microsoft A US $1 billion antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft has been dismissed by a Salt Lake court following failure by the jury to arrive at a verdict.

In the lawsuit, the multinational software and services firm Novell had accused Microsoft of leading it (Novell) into creating WordPerfect, the once famous writing software for Windows 95, only for Microsoft to pull the plug so it could claim the market share with its own programme. Novell claims it was later compelled to sell the software at a loss of $1.2 billion.

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Jurors in the trial apparently got confused throughout the deliberations, and at some point the judge told them to disregard a question they had brought that could not be answered. One juror reportedly requested to be removed from the case though the judge denies he never received such a request.

In its defence, Microsoft argued through its lawyers that the programme Novell developed (WordPerfect), was not completely compatible with Microsoft Windows 95 until long after the Operating System was rolled out in the market. At the onset, WordPerfect enjoyed about 50% of the word processing market but later decreased to 10% as Microsoft’s word processing programmes started to take a bigger share of the market.

Bill Gates testified in November, saying he never knew his decision to drop an externally developed tool would hurt Novel. The Microsoft co-founder told the court that he acted in his company’s interest to give protection to Windows 95 and prevent crashing on any future versions. He added that Novell had a chance to resolve the problem but it never reacted in good time. However Novell refuted Gate’s claims, arguing that the Microsoft boss ordered his engineers to reject Novell’s software because he was scared it was too good.

Microsoft indicated it will be filing a motion requesting the judge to completely dismiss Novell’s lawsuit and do away with a second trial.


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