Novell’s $1.3 billion antitrust suit against Microsoft ends in hung jury

7-year-old suit claims Microsoft tried to sabotage Novell’s desktop application business

Just in time to get home for the holidays, after three days of deliberation, a 12-member jury told a judge last Friday that they were unable to reach a decision in Novell’s antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft.

The $1.3 billion suit, Novell Inc. v. Microsoft Corporation, was filed in November 2004 in the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City. The lawsuit claimed that Microsoft took advantage of its stranglehold on the PC operating system (OS) market to injure Novell’s desktop applications business.

Specifically, Novell accused Microsoft of misleading it about specific technical details prior to the release of Windows 95, which adversely affected Novell’s WordPerfect, Quattro Pro and other applications. Novell alleged Microsoft invited the company to work on versions of its applications for the new OS, but when doing so, found that Microsoft had removed crucial application programming interfaces required for its applications to function properly. Novell also claimed Microsoft was slow to fix bugs that caused problems for its software among other complaints.

After a two-month trial, the jury was unable to reach an accord. According to court documents, the jury asked for clarification on a number of points during its deliberation, including questions about the definition of “middleware.” The jury was unsure whether Windows 95 was considered “an operating system or middleware,” according to the court filings.

While Novell is disappointed with the setback, it said in a statement that it will seek a retrial and make an effort to address all of the jurors’ uncertainties.

For more, read PC World.

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