November 12, 2004 11:29 AM PST

Novell sues Microsoft for sinking WordPerfect

Novell filed suit against Microsoft on Friday, claiming the company used anti-competitive tactics in the desktop software market during the 1990s.

As expected, the suit argues that Microsoft restrained trade from 1994 to 1996, when Novell sold its WordPerfect word processing application and Quattro Pro spreadsheet. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, seeks unspecified damages.

Novell charges that Microsoft withheld "critical technical information" about Windows from Novell, which Novell says hampered its ability to create competitive versions of its productivity applications.

Novell also contends that Microsoft deliberately excluded WordPerfect from the marketplace. Novell said Microsoft used its monopoly power to prevent hardware manufacturers from offering WordPerfect to customers.

"While this lawsuit is unrelated to Novell's current business, the claims are important and hold considerable value for Novell," Joseph LaSala Jr., Novell's senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

Earlier this week, Microsoft paid Novell $536 million to settle potential litigation relating to Novell's NetWare operating system. Novell also has dropped out of an ongoing antitrust case against Microsoft by the European Commission.

The two sides, however, could not reach a settlement on the question of WordPerfect and desktop productivity suites, according to Novell.

Back in 1996, Novell sold off WordPerfect and its Quattro Pro spreadsheet programs to Corel for about $170 million after losing substantial market share to Microsoft's Office. Novell claims the combined value of the WordPerfect and Quattro Pro product lines when they were acquired was more than $1 billion.

In a statement issued Friday, Microsoft dismissed Novell's suit as fundamentally flawed. The Redmond, Wash.-based company said Novell's mismanagement caused WordPerfect to fall out of favor with consumers.

"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," the Microsoft statement says.

The suit is based in part on facts from the Department of Justice's successful antitrust case against Microsoft, which focused on the inclusion of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser with Windows on desktop PCs.

See more CNET content tagged:
Novell Inc., Corel WordPerfect, suit, antitrust, Microsoft Corp.

3 comments

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Novell's New Strategy
Sue Microsoft and settle because your case has only a slight chance of success. Novell is such a shining example of successful business practices. I hope someday I can distribute free software and sue rich people for my money too.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
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Microsoft's Old Strategy
Well you could adopt Microsoft's old (and still in use) strategy...

1- You reinvent the wheel (and do a terrible job of it).
2- Claim it as your own idea.
3- Squash the company that originated the idea or innovation.
4- Flood the market with propaganda and colorful butterflies.
5- Appeal court cases at every turn until either a) the other guys
run out of money and/or b) run out of patience.
6- Dominate the market with mediocre products while taking
advantage of monopoly power to destroy other markets and
annihilate consumer choice in every corner of the tech industry.

Here's hoping that Microsoft gets more than just a hand slap.
I'm rooting for Novell on this one!
Posted by JuggerNaut (860 comments )
Link Flag
predictible
MS is an illegal monopoly and they do stifle competition. This is a legitimate lawsuit, although, they should have stomped hard on them back in 1995.

You might realize this if you pulled your head from Steve Balmers arse once in a while.
Posted by (242 comments )
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