A federal judge has granted Microsoft’s request to dismiss an antitrust suit that was brought against it by Novell in 1994. Novell was seeking $1.3 billion in damages.
US District Judge J. Frederick Motz ordered the suit closed Monday. The decision comes after a mistrial in December in which jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict. “[Novell] did not present evidence sufficient for a jury to find that Microsoft committed any acts that violated [US antitrust laws] in maintaining its monopoly in the operating systems market,” Judge Motz wrote in his ruling.
The case dates back to 1994, when Novell was trying to develop a version of its WordPerfect word processing software for Windows 95. Novell claims that Microsoft “blocked” these efforts, and it sold WordPerfect and related software to Corel in 1996. The products sold for $1.2 billion less than what Novell originally paid, roughly the amount the firm was seeking in damages from Microsoft.
During the time that Novell owned WordPerfect, the product’s share of the word processing market fell from over 50 percent to less than 10 percent. But when Bill Gates testified during the late-2011 trial, he claimed that WordPerfect’s problems under Novell were self-inflicted and not the result of alleged anti-competitive practices by Microsoft. Microsoft Word beat WordPerfect, he said, because it was the better product.
Novell says it disagrees with the ruling. "Novell still believes in the strength of its claim, and we do intend to pursue an appeal," a statement from the firm notes.
Microsoft, of course, is eager to put this decades-long charade behind it. "We've maintained throughout this case that Novell's arguments lack merit, and we're gratified with today's ruling dismissing the last of Novell's claims and putting this matter to rest," Microsoft Deputy General Counsel David Howard said.