Last week we reported that the ongoing antitrust dispute against Microsoft brought by Novell was in the hands of the presiding judge and jury.
That jury, however, has come back deadlocked, leading to a mistrial after three days of deliberation. 11 of the 12 jurors had reached a decision in favor of Novell but the last juror would not switch sides.
In 2004, the global enterprise software provider sued Microsoft, claiming the company violated anti-trust laws in 1994 by using its monopoly on personal computer operating systems to suppress WordPerfect, at the time the world's most popular word-processing program.
Eventually, WordPerfect's value cratered from $1.2 billion in 1994 to just $170 million when it purchased by Corel in 1996. As expected, Novell is suing for the difference in value, which would be tripled under US antitrust law to over $3 billion in damages.
Microsoft, in its arguments, said Novell lost the market share not because of Microsoft but because they did not make a compatible software for Windows 95 quick enough, allowing the company's own Word to gain traction. MSFT attorney David Tulchin added in the closing arguments: "Novell was late. It was always behind. It was playing catch-up. In the high-tech world where things can move quickly ... the market can kill you."
Throughout the case, former WordPerfect and Novell execs had testified that Microsoft had a proper case. Novell allegedly neglected the product and did not use Windows 95's GUI properly, said the execs. Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates also testified that Novell was too slow to get a compatible product out in time for the rollout of Word and Win95.
Microsoft settled a similar case with the software company for $536 million in 2004.