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Novell and Microsoft go to court over Wordperfect

Its sins of the 1990s haunt Microsoft
Tue Oct 18 2011, 17:22

SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Novell has its sights on Microsoft in a legal showdown over the Wordperfect word processing and Quattro Pro spreadsheet applications.

The jury in the Novell v. Microsoft trial was selected yesterday, in what is expected to be the last outing for Microsoft in its 15-year battle over antitrust allegations. The US District Court for Utah is scheduled to hear opening arguments today, with Novell alleging Microsoft abused its monopoly on operating systems to harm Novell's business that included the popular Wordperfect and Quattro Pro applications.

One of Novell's exhibits appears to show then Microsoft CEO Bill Gates saying to his subordinates that the firm should make it harder for the likes of Lotus and Novell to compete with its own Microsoft Office suite. The email sent by Gates on 3 October 1994 stated, "We [Microsoft] should wait until we have a way to do a high level of integration that will be harder for [the] likes of Notes, WordPerfect to achieve, and which will give Office a real advantage."

Later Gates denied his email formed the basis of any anti-competitive behaviour, stating in a March 2009 deposition, "The decision I was making in this memo is about: Is this an important thing? And I'm saying it's not." Novell on the other hand has a different view, stating in its complaint, "He [Gates] candidly admitted that Microsoft's own products could not compete without the benefit of these anti-competitive acts."

Novell's Wordperfect was the incumbent word processing application in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The court selected a 12 member jury panel yesterday for what is expected to be a long trial.

In other action, Microsoft is seeking to have its crushing defeat in the US v. Microsoft antitrust trial ignored and relitigate some or all of more than 350 findings of fact and 72 conclusions of law decided in that case and upheld on appeal, all the way up to the US Supreme Court. µ


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