On the opening day of Novell's BrainShare conference comes the news that the U.S. Supreme Court won't block Novell's antitrust suit against Microsoft over WordPerfect.
WordPerfect, for those not steeped in industry history, is a word-processing product that used to be a credible competitor to Microsoft Word back in the late 1980s/early 1990s.
In 2004, Novell settled one potential antitrust suit with Microsoft involving NetWare for $536 million. But Novell refused to settle with Microsoft over WordPerfect and filed an antitrust suit against the company that just handed it a half-billion dollar check, seeking unspecified damages.
The crux of Novell's case against Microsoft should sound familiar by now: Novell is claiming that Microsoft withheld interoperability information it needed to enable WordPerfect to run well on Windows. Microsoft tried to get Novell's complaint dismissed, claiming that it was Novell's "own mismanagement and poor business decisions" that tanked WordPerfect. Plus, Microsoft argued, since Novell sold WordPerfect to Corel now 12 years ago, their claims should be barred under the Statute of Limitations.
Update: Here is Microsoft's statement on the Court's decision, which a company spokesman released this afternoon:
"We realize the Supreme Court reviews a small percentage of cases each year, but we filed our petition because it offered an opportunity to address the question of who may assert antitrust claims. We look forward to addressing this and other substantive matters in the case before the trial court. We believe the facts will show that Novell’s claims, which are 12 to 14 years old, are without merit."
What's your take? Does Novell have a legitimate leg to stand on, here? Or is this just one more example of companies using Microsoft as an ATM when they need a cash infusion?