- The Washington Times - Friday, November 12, 2004

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Days after collecting a $536 million antitrust settlement from Microsoft Corp., Novell returned to court yesterday to accuse the technology giant of using its market dominance to shut out WordPerfect and other software in the mid-1990s.

The federal suit, which partly dovetails with a U.S. government antitrust case, accused Microsoft of holding down the word-processing program and the Quattro Pro spreadsheet application by making its operating system inhospitable to them. Microsoft also used its commercial clout to keep Novell from offering its programs to consumers, according to the lawsuit.

“We intend to pursue aggressively a goal of recovering fair value for the harm caused to Novell’s business by Microsoft’s anti-competitive actions,” said Joseph A. LaSala Jr., Novell’s senior vice president and general counsel.

Microsoft argued that trade-secret provisions allowed it to withhold technical specifications to protect itself, and said Novell is trying to blame others for its own bad business decisions.

Tom Burt, Microsoft corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, also accused Novell of latching its lawsuit to the federal complaint against the company to avoid the statute of limitations — which would be four years.

The law allows leniency when a government complaint against a company is involved. Mr. Burt said the federal complaint is irrelevant, but Novell is invoking it because the company sold WordPerfect eight years ago — double the amount of time provided for in the statute.

“It’s a very, very old claim,” he said. “If it were true, they should’ve filed a lawsuit for that half a decade ago.”

Novell spokesman Bruce Lowry said the company is including the Justice Department case because it demonstrates Microsoft’s history of anti-competitiveness.

Novell bought WordPerfect and Quattro Pro in 1994 for more than $1 billion, and planned to bundle the software for sale in a suite. Just four years earlier, the word-processing program controlled 50 percent of the market.

But the bottom dropped out of WordPerfect demand while in Novell’s hands, and the company dumped the software just two years later for $195 million.

Microsoft announced Monday it would pay Novell to pull out of a European Union lawsuit accusing the company of abusing its industry dominance.

Microsoft previously spent $2.4 billion settling antitrust and other claims by AOL Time Warner and Sun Microsystems, both significant supporters of the European case. Microsoft has cash reserves of $64.4 billion.

Novell moved its headquarters to Massachusetts earlier this year but still has substantial operations in Provo, Utah.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide