Jury Deciding Verdict In Microsoft-Novell WordPerfect Lawsuit

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Microsoft and Novell await jury’s verdict in their long-running court case

Microsoft and Novell have completed their closing arguments in their long-running court battle, with the jury now deciding their verdict.

The suit was first filed by Novell in November 2004 after it claimed that Microsoft used illegal practices to defeat its rival WordPerfect word processor Novell alleges that Microsoft withheld critical Windows 95 technical information in an effort to make it difficult to deliver a compatible version of the program.

Gates’ Testimony

In turn, Microsoft has argued that WordPerfect’s market share collapse was due solely to Novell’s mismanagement. Novell eventually sold its word-processing franchise to Corel in 1996, for a fraction of the price it paid to acquire the property in 1994. However, it retained the rights to some of the underlying technology, which it baked into products such as the GroupWise messaging and collaboration platform.

Even as the two companies battled it out in court, the two collaborated in other areas. In late 2010, Novell announced it would sell some of its intellectual property assets to CPTN Holdings, a consortium of technology companies organised by Microsoft. The actual intellectual property in question was unspecified, although the consortium was willing to pay some $450 million. At the time, Katherine Egbert of research firm Jefferies postulated that the assets could relate somehow to WordPerfect.

That deal ran into a sizable roadblock, however, in the form of the US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which picked over the associated patents. That interfered Attachmate’s attempt to acquire Novell for $2.2 billion, although federal regulators eventually allowed the deal to go through.

Gates testified in the Novell-Microsoft suit on 21 November. Unsurprisingly, he denied that Microsoft had deliberately tried to undermine WordPerfect’s compatibility with Windows. According to Bloomberg, Novell’s counsel used closing arguments to describe Microsoft’s behaviour at the time as a “purely predatory action”.

Gates has testified in Microsoft’s defence before, most notably during the company’s 1998 antitrust investigation by the federal government.

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