SOFTWARE HOUSE Novell has managed to get a decision overturned its antitrust case against Microsoft regarding Wordperfect.
Novell filed a lawsuit against Microsoft back in 2004 alleging that Microsoft had engaged in anticompetitive practices to undermined its once market leading Wordperfect application. Before Microsoft's Word took over the market, Wordperfect, which was briefly owned by Novell, was the most popular word processing application.
By 1996, Wordperfect's marketshare had dropped to just 10 per cent from over 50 per cent in 1990. That in turn caused the application's value to drop from $1.2bn in May 1994 to just $170m when Novell sold Wordperfect to Corel in 1996.
It's not surprising then that Novell wants to recoup its loses from Microsoft, not just once but three times over. So the 2-1 decision against Microsoft by a US appeals court in Virginia means that Microsoft might have to pay out once more to Novell for its past anti-competitive practices.
Microsoft told Bloomberg that the company believes Novell's case doesn't have a leg to stand on. "We are disappointed with the Fourth's Circuit's decision to reverse in part the district court's summary judgment ruling which dismissed these very old claims, although we are pleased that at this point only one part of one of Novell's claims remains."
Novell didn't comment, but we think it's safe to say that it doesn't agree. Now it can take Microsoft to trial and try to recoup what it believes was unfairly taken away from it long ago.
Even though Microsoft could end up paying billions in damages to Novell, given the amount of money Microsoft rakes in from the Office suite of applications, a decision against it is unlikely to dissuade it from anti-competitive practices in the future. µ
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