Novell Sues Over Microsoft Marketing Campaign

Taking issue with Microsoft Corp.'s claims about NetWare 6 in a recent marketing campaign, Novell Inc. filed suit against Microsoft this week in federal court in Salt Lake City.

Coinciding with Novell's recent launch of NetWare 6, Microsoft sent Novell customers a marketing piece shaped like a cereal box with the label "Microsoft Server Crunch."

Statements on the cereal box marketing piece included:

  • "What's the expiration date on that NetWare platform?"
  • "As a result of the recent Cambridge Technology Partners merger, Novell is shifting its focus from software development to consultancy services."
  • "You're left with a server platform without full support of its manufacturer. Which means increasing costs as it rapidly becomes obsolete, forcing you to implement time-consuming retrofits."

    Novell says the statements are false and misleading and violate federal and state law.

    "Microsoft has tried to create a fictitious end of life for NetWare to create fear and uncertainty within Novell's customer base and to discourage future customers from doing business with Novell," Stewart Nelson, Novell executive vice president and CEO, said in a statement.

    Novell's statement also quoted IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky predicting that Novell's NetWare will be a player in the server operating environment market throughout IDC's current forecast period, which stretches through 2005.

    Microsoft spokesman Jim Dessler says Microsoft sent out a clarification letter to the customers who received the cereal box promotion in response to a formal letter from Novell last month demanding a retraction.

    "Apparently this wasn't satisfactory," Dessler said. "We are presently reviewing this suit and will respond accordingly. Hopefully, they viewed this effort [the clarification letter] in good faith."

    In other legal Microsoft-related news, Dessler said Microsoft is expecting a ruling on Tuesday from the U.S. Supreme Court on its appeal in the antitrust case. Simultaneously, Dessler says Microsoft and the government are negotiating under the new district court order to reach a settlement in the next few weeks.

  • About the Author

    Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.


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