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Court Continues Microsoft-Novell Antitrust Case

Two antitrust claims brought against Microsoft Corp. by Novell Inc. can proceed, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

Two antitrust claims brought against Microsoft Corp. by Novell Inc. can proceed, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

A panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision by U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz of Baltimore dismissing four of Novell's six claims but keeping the other two alive.

Novell alleges Microsoft used its monopoly power to limit sales of WordPerfect, a word-processing program, and Quattro Pro, a spreadsheet program.

The appellate court agreed with the lower court that the four claims that were dismissed were filed after the statute of limitations expired.

The other two claims are not subject to the same deadline because they were based on anticompetitive conduct alleged in a Department of Justice complaint, the appeals court said.

"Taking Novell's allegations as true, as we must, the injury that Novell alleges here is plainly an injury to competition that the antitrust laws were intended to forestall," appeals court Judge Allyson Duncan wrote in an opinion joined by Judge Dennis Shedd.

Judge H. Emory Widener Jr. also heard the arguments in the case but died before the panel filed its decision.

Novell's two remaining claims allege:

  • Microsoft unlawfully "obtained and maintained its monopoly power in the Intel-compatible operating systems market by engaging in anticompetitive conduct."
  • Microsoft engaged in exclusionary agreements with manufacturers that amounted to unreasonable restraint of trade.

Novell, which sold WordPerfect and Quattro Pro to Corel in 1996, previously reached a $536 million settlement with Microsoft on antitrust claims involving its NetWare operating system.

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