Novell lawsuit against Microsoft goes to jury

A verdict is expected as early as today in the $1 billion antitrust case

A Utah jury has begun deliberating over a US$1 billion antitrust lawsuit Novell first brought against Microsoft in 2004. Observers of the case expect the jury to reach a decision as early as Wednesday evening.

Novell first brought the suit against Microsoft in November 2004. The company claimed Microsoft had intentionally misled Novell prior to the launch of Microsoft's Windows 95 operating system and, as a result, caused Novell to lose market share for its WordPerfect office suite after the introduction of Windows 95. Novell argued that Microsoft ran afoul of U.S. antitrust laws when it had advised Novell on how to prepare for Windows 95, according to court documents.

The U.S. District Court of Utah in Salt Lake City is handling the case, which is being presided over by Judge Frederick Motz of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. The case had been moved to the court in Maryland to combine pretrial proceedings with other lawsuits filed against Microsoft. Novell had filed six claims against Microsoft, five of which were dismissed, with the U.S. Court of Appeals in May reversing the dismissal of the sixth claim and moving the case back to the District Court in Utah, with Motz presiding over it there.

Microsoft's legal team is confident that the jury will find that Novell's claims have no merit, said James Jardine, a lawyer for Ray Quinney & Nebeker, speaking on behalf of Microsoft in a statement. Novell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(James Niccolai in San Francisco contributed to this report.)

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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