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Hung jury in Novell v. Microsoft lawsuit

Juror's doubt might result in retrial
Mon Dec 19 2011, 13:01

ONE JUROR has held up Novell's $1.2bn lawsuit against Microsoft, resulting in a hung jury, another bout of lengthy negotiations and a possible retrial.

Corbyn Alvey, 21, a security guard from Magna, was the only one of the 12 jurors to find that there was not enough evidence to support Novell's antitrust claims. Alvey said he believed that Microsoft committed anti-competitive acts, but said he did not see enough evidence to convince him that Novell was substantially damaged by this. He also told KSL that while the other 11 jurors decided to find for Novell, they did not share the same reasoning for that verdict.

The lawyers for both sides are now negotiating a possible settlement to avoid the case going to trial again, which could drag it out for another few months and might also fail to return a unanimous verdict.

Alvey's refusal to give into pressure from the other jurors makes him a god-send to Microsoft, as it would have been a definite loss for the Redmond-based company otherwise. This will likely affect the negotiations, as Novell's team will undoubtedly claim that it will win a retrial, while Microsoft can always claim that it has its own supporters and the case could go on for years. Microsoft is also attempting to have the case dismissed altogether.

The lawsuit centres on Microsoft's dismissal of Novell's Wordperfect word processor software for Windows 95 for alleged incompatibility. Novell claims that Microsoft misled it and dropped support for its product to push its own software, Microsoft Word, and that it acted in an anticompetitive manner to do so, costing the company over $1bn in lost sales.

"I walk away feeling honestly myself, and I can't speak for the other jurors, that I made the right decision even if it resulted in a hung jury," said Alvey, according to the Associated Press. "There were so many inferences that needed to be drawn that I felt that it was unfair to Microsoft to go out on a limb and say, 'yes.'" µ


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