Vintage suit against Microsoft has legs

The US Supreme Court has ruled that a decade-old anti-trust suit brought by Novell against Microsoft can proceed, despite requests by Microsoft to halt the case.

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The US Supreme Court has ruled that a decade-old anti-trust suit brought by Novell against Microsoft can proceed, despite requests by Microsoft to halt the case.

The suit relates to anti-competitive behaviour Novell said harmed its WordPerfect and QuattroPro business in the 1990s. IT was filed in a Maryland court nearly 10 years ago.

Novell accused Microsoft of withholding technical information about Windows that would help its WordPerfect and Quattro Pro programs work with the OS and, as a result, the programs lost critical market share. Novell filed the suit shortly after Microsoft paid the company US$536 million to settle anti-trust claims over Novell's NetWare OS.

Microsoft said Novell's claims in the case were not valid because its productivity software did not compete with Windows. It has also tried to halt the case since Novell sold the programs to Corel.

However, in June 2005, Maryland Judge Frederick Motz ruled that Novell's anti-trust claims could go forward based on the 2002 federal anti-trust case brought against Microsoft by the US Department of Justice. Both a federal district court and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Maryland court's decision.

The Supreme Court has now, in turn, confirmed those decisions. Chief Justice John Roberts, however, "took no part in the consideration or decision of this petition", because he is a Microsoft shareholder.

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