Court dismisses Novell antitrust case against Microsoft

Novell did not provide sufficient evidence to prove Microsoft's alleged antitrust behavior, the court concludes

Microsoft has won a motion to dismiss a seven-year-old, US$1.3 billion lawsuit from Novell charging Microsoft with illegal antitrust actions around its Windows 95 release.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Frederick Motz granted Microsoft's motion to dismiss a case first brought by Novell in 2004.

"Although Novell presented evidence from which a jury could have found that Microsoft engaged in aggressive conduct, perhaps to monopolize or attempt to monopolize the applications market, it did not present evidence sufficient for a jury to find that Microsoft committed any acts that violated in maintaining its monopoly in the operating systems market," Motz stated in the ruling.

Novell has appealed the case several times, most recently last year in the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, Utah, which resulted in December in a hung jury. That was when Microsoft filed a motion under Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to dismiss the case.

In its suit, Novell claimed Microsoft had intentionally withheld important Windows 95 APIs (application programming interfaces) prior to the launch of the operating system, causing Novell to lose time preparing its office suite for the new OS. As a result, Novell argued, Novell's office suite could not be released in time for Windows 95 and the company lost crucial market share to Microsoft's own office software.

Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft during the release of Windows 95, countered last year in testimony that Novell just did not prepare quickly enough for the rollout of Windows 95.

Novell has not immediately responded to a query of if it plans to appeal the ruling.

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Joab Jackson

IDG News Service

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