More antitrust headaches for Microsoft despite expiration of IE judgment

Court rules Novell WordPerfect lawsuit may proceed

The landmark antitrust judgment over Internet Explorer is finally set to expire next week after a decade of federal oversight over Microsoft.

But Microsoft's antitrust problems aren't ending just yet. Another old case involving WordPerfect, the once widely used word prcoessor, has been resurrected by a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling overturning a previous judgment in favor of Microsoft and allowing the case being pursued by Novell to proceed. Novell, now owned by Attachmate, owned WordPerfect for a couple of years in the mid-1990s before selling it to current owner Corel.

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Novell, which sold rights to many of its patents to Microsoft before being swallowed up by Attachmate, actually received $35.5 million from Microsoft in 2000, as part of a $280 million settlement awarded primarily to Caldera, which later became known as the SCO Group and unsuccessfully sued Novell over use of Unix code.

Despite the $35.5 million payment, Novell filed suit against Microsoft in 2004. Novell had already gotten rid of WordPerfect by this time, but alleged that Microsoft "engaged in anticompetitive conduct" to prevent adoption of WordPerfect.

Microsoft seemed to come out on top of this case last year when, as Reuters notes, "Microsoft won a summary judgment against Novell on the grounds that Novell's claims were subject to the 1996 agreement with Caldera, which relinquished the right to sue Microsoft."

But this week's ruling overturns that one, allowing Novell to proceed with one antitrust claim.

Microsoft told Reuters that it is "disappointed" in the most recent decision. "We still are convinced that this lingering claim does not have any merit, and we are considering our next steps," Microsoft said.

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