Novell Wins Appeal to Continue Court Battle in Antitrust Lawsuit Against Microsoft

By Ashok Bindra May 04, 2011

In 2004, software maker Novell sued software giant Microsoft on the basis that its word processing application WordPerfect was the victim of unfair competition by Microsoft, primarily via its deals with computer OEMs. Last March, the U.S. District Court in Maryland dismissed the last two outstanding antitrust claims Novell filed against Microsoft in 2004.

In ruling on Tuesday May 3rd, the appeals court dismissed that judgment made in a lower court, saying that the previous agreement with Caldera covered a different set of products. Hence, Novell can proceed with the long-running antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft, reports Reuters, an International multimedia news agency.

Novell, which was bought by Attachmate Corp early this year, claimed that its operating system products and several of its software applications were unfairly squeezed out of the market by Microsoft in the 1990s, wrote Reuters reporter Bill Rigby.

According to Reuters report, under a deal in 1996, Novell assigned rights to software developer Caldera to sue Microsoft for antitrust practices, alleging that monopolistic behavior shut its DR DOS operating system out of the market. Caldera acquired the DR DOS operating system and DR DOS-related assets, including this claim, from Novell.

Four year later, Caldera received a $280 million in settlement. Part of this settlement also went to Novell.

On the grounds that Novell’s claims were subject to the 1996 agreement with Caldera, which relinquished the right to sue Microsoft, the software giant won a summary judgment against Novell, as per the report by Rigby. The appeals court reversed that judgment on Tuesday, Rigby wrote.

Based on the new ruling, Novell will proceed with the remaining antitrust claim against Microsoft. While playing down the new ruling in favor of Novell, Microsoft said it was considering its next move, wrote Reuters.

“We are disappointed with the Fourth’s Circuit’s decision. Although, we are pleased that at this point only one part of one of Novell’s claims remains,” a Microsoft spokeswoman told Reuters. “We still are convinced that this lingering claim does not have any merit, and we are considering our next steps,” said the spokeswoman.

Ashok Bindra is a veteran writer and editor with more than 25 years of editorial experience covering RF/wireless technologies, semiconductors and power electronics. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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