Here we go again: Novell's antitrust suit against Microsoft isn't dead yet

Here we go again: Novell's antitrust suit against Microsoft isn't dead yet

Summary: A federal appeals court this week agreed to hear Novell's appeal of a longstanding antitrust case involving Microsoft and WordPerfect.


In March 2010, the U.S. District Court in Maryland dismissed the last two outstanding antitrust claims Novell filed against Microsoft in 2004 involving WordPerfect and Quattro Pro, two software products Novell owned between 1994 and 1996. At that time, Novell officials said they planned to appeal.

On May 3, a U.S. court in Richmond, Virg., said Novell's appeal will be considered. As Bloomberg reported:

“'Although the underlying lawsuit involves complex issues of antitrust law, the primary question before us is one of contract interpretation: whether a 1996 contract between Novell and a third company divested Novell of its right to bring the present claim,' Judge Allyson Duncan wrote in the 2-1 decision."

(The third company in this case is Caldera.)

Back in 2004, Novell settled one potential antitrust suit with Microsoft involving NetWare for $536 million. But Novell refused to settle with Microsoft over antitrust claims around its WordPerfect and Quattro Pro products at that time.

Novell claimed Microsoft withheld interoperability information it needed to enable those products 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 and Quattro Pro. Plus, Microsoft argued, since Novell sold WordPerfect to Corel now 12 years ago, their claims should be barred under the Statute of Limitations. Four of Novell’s claims in this matter had previously been dismissed. But two were allowed to go forward.

Microsoft is downplaying Novell's planned appeal. Kevin Kutz, a spokesperson for the company, told Bloomberg, "“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."

Attachmate reportedly has had Novell lay off "hundreds" of employees earlier this week, and is moving Novell corporate headquarters back from Waltham, Mass., to Provo, Utah. There have been reports that a number of individuals working on the Mono project were cut from the payroll, but so far, Miguel de Icaza and his Mono cohorts aren't confirming publicly that they -- or the Mono products -- have been affected.

Novell's sale to Attachmate -- and the subsequent sale of 800-plus of its patents to a group of tech vendors that include Microsoft -- went through at the end of April, 2011.

Topics: Microsoft, Enterprise Software, Open Source, Security, Software


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Word Perfect

    I liked using Word Perfect 5.1, it was nicely written and easy to use compared with the old standby, Word Star. Word Perfect 6.0 for DOS and the version for windows was not a good version; this was a big reason for me to change to using Word.
  • great news

    it's time for M$ to face the music for it's dirty deeds.
    Linux Geek
  • I thought they originally filed a suit back in the 90s...

    ...when Windows 95 broke WordPerfect.

    I was working tech support for a desktop manufacturer when W95 went live, and we logged something like fifteen or twenty calls from one user who was desperately hoping that someone could tell her how to rescue her thesis that she had almost finished in WP but could no longer access now that she had a W95 machine.

    The rumour at the time was that MS had intentionally built W95 in a manner that broke WP, and that a suit was in the offing.
    • RE: Here we go again: Novell's antitrust suit against Microsoft isn't dead yet

      @fairportfan Most of my old Windows 3.1 programs ran on Win95... WP was the exception, and it really sucked cause WP was a lot better than Office 95. Then again Office 97 blew WP out of the water in every regard.
      • All my programs ran fine on 95


        Autocad 12, WP51, Wolfenstein, Even the old BBS Q-Modem software. Of course I didn't buy flakey hardware except the Number 9 video card I had to swap out because the driver was goofy in Windows, no matter the Window version. Also 95 got better with the "B" version which helped a great deal. Most of WP problems in ver 6 was they didn't use the MS library. I went with Office 95 and then Office 97 and forgot Wordperfect. So did everyone else.
    • I don't doubt it

      Hence why I am staying away from companies that want to sell the OS and apps (MS). The OS should be FOSS and then apps/services can be paid if necessary. Otherwise there's always the suspicion that the OS intentionally breaks the competitors app.
  • RE: Here we go again: Novell's antitrust suit against Microsoft isn't dead yet

    Hail Ye great Redmond Vole! Grant to us a suite of applications that all work together, intertwined with the O/S kernel to allow neat little features that compromise security.
  • There is no statute of limitations on Fraud

    (Def: concealment of a material fact.)
    Novell will prevail on this issue.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz ~~ Your Linux Advocate
    • RE: Here we go again: Novell's antitrust suit against Microsoft isn't dead yet

      Of course there's a statute of limitations on fraud (only 2 years in Virginia). But then this has nothing to do with that since it's just a court agreeing to hear an appeal. Plus the issue they're looking at has nothing to do with fraud. It's an interpretation of contract law.
    • This isn't a fraud suit

      It's Anti-trust.<br><br>And they (Novell) should lose.
      Michael Alan Goff
      • RE: Here we go again: Novell's antitrust suit against Microsoft isn't dead yet

        Why? Because you love Microsoft and slaver all over them?
      • No

        because it's just a big blame game. Nobody's product failed because it was BAD. It's always somebody else's fault, somehow.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • What if the shoe was on the other foot?

        Would you feel the same way? ;)
      • What do you mean?

        It can't be about a product I've made, so I'm guessing you mean a product I like and use having a low market share and dying? That actually hasn't happened before, the majority of products I use actually being open source or owned by Microsoft itself.

        I did, however, use to play LOTRO. It's still around, but with the stench that accompanies the F2P market. Do I blame Blizzard? No. They made a better product and it has succeeded.

        Maybe you were referring to a Microsoft product that fell into the pit of nothingness? So be it, I don't use that many Microsoft products anyway. I use IE sometimes, Visual Studio and... sometimes Office. If any of them fell into the pit of not-being-around, I'd move on.

        I'm no so loyal to a company that I wouldn't move on if I found something else that did the job. I use what works, and I'd quickly replace even Visual Studio or Office if I could find something better.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • lol

        I dunno but it looks like he means if the lawsuit were reversed.

        bo-ing!! doh...
        blind obedience
      • If Microsoft were suing Novell

        > Are they blaming Novell for their failure instead of taking responsibility for their failure?

        If so, then yes... they deserve to fail. Notice how almost everything else worked on Win95 except their program? If the situation was reversed, and Office was the only thing that didn't work on the mystical Novell OS? It'd be Microsoft's fault, and they should learn to code better.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • Nothing mythical about Novell at all

        @goff256 <br>I've used NetWare 5.1 and their NDS directory services back in 2000-2003 even before they fully transitioned over to using a Linux kernel and SuSE. <br><br>You on the other hand, talk about things you have no knowledge of and come across like some idiot corporate fanboy.<br><br>Why don't you go back to the playpen where you belong.
      • Good job, Scorpio

        You have the nads to play the fanboy card while ALSO being one of the most Anti-Microsoft people ever.

        Why debate facts when you can insult, though?
        Michael Alan Goff
      • What do you call &quot;Anti-Microsoft&quot;?

        The fact that I'm willing to call them on their screw ups?<br><br>Or is it that I'm not stupid enough to believe every press release they put out like you do?<br><br>Those were rhetorical questions, btw...<br><br><i>You have the nads to play the fanboy card while ALSO being one of the most Anti-Microsoft people ever.</i><br><br>That makes absolutely no sense, but given how brainwashed you are, that's not surprising...
      • Message has been deleted.

        Michael Alan Goff