Judge Throws Out Half of Novell-MS Suit

Novell suffered a slight setback in its antitrust case against Microsoft as half of its lawsuit was thrown out last Friday, according to court documents released Monday. However, U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Motz let stand several key charges accusing Microsoft of harming Novell's business through monopolistic practices.

Novell has based its case on the Department of Justice suit that Microsoft settled in 2002. Judge Motz said that Novell's charges relating to the abuse of monopolies in word processing and spreadsheet applications would not be allowed in the court, because the allegations were not part of the original DOJ case.

But Motz did let the rest of the charges stand, which include two counts related to Microsoft's alleged attempts to sabotage the marketing of Novell's word processing and spreadsheet applications, WordPerfect and Quattro Pro. Microsoft attempted to have these counts dismissed since Novell no longer owns the rights to either product, but the motion was denied.

The remaining two counts deal with Microsoft's marketing tactics with manufacturers and illegal use of its power in the operating system market.

Critics have accused Novell of being sue-happy, especially considering that its lawsuit was filed just days after it had settled with Microsoft for actions against Novell's NetWare product. Microsoft paid Novell $536 million to end the legal action.

Novell hasn't owned WordPerfect or Quattro Pro since 1996, bringing into question who exactly Microsoft was hurting with its tactics: Novell or Corel, which purchased the software from Novell.

Microsoft perviously called Novell's decision to litigate "unfortunate," stating that, "Novell seeks to blame Microsoft for its own mismanagement and poor business decisions. It's also unfortunate, and surprising, that Novell has just now chosen to litigate over a business it owned for a very short time and that it sold more than eight years ago."

Judge Motz has suggested, however, that he is sympathetic to Novell's case by suggesting Microsoft knew how its near total domination of the operating system market hurt other companies' products.

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