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Woidpoifect Won't Go Away

During the U.S. antitrust investigation and prosecution of Microsoft , WordPerfect and Novell were two major flies in Redmond's ointment. Two enemies became one when Novell bought WordPerfect as an effort to counter Microsoft Word and Office.

WordPerfect believed that Microsoft leveraged its monopoly in operating systems to gain a monopoly in productivity suites. The argument was not as clean as the Netscape situation, which was clearly harmed by bundling IE with Windows 95.

For WordPerfect, it had more to do with OEM relationships and Office developers' ability to get at the innards of Windows through what are called undocumented calls. The government is set to cease is oversight of Microsoft on May 12. So the timing of a renewed WordPerfect antitrust suit is strange, indeed.

Here's the skinny:

Novell bought WordPerfect, but it later sold the intellectual property, along with that of Quattro Pro, to Corel in 1996. Novell then executed an intellectual property deal concerning its DR-DOS product with Caldera, a company founded by ex-Novell boss Ray Noorda. Caldera successfully sued Microsoft over DR-DOS, distributing some of the court winnings to Novell.

An appeals court in Virginia ruled that even though Novell gave up rights associated with DR-DOS when it sold that product to Caldera, it had not relinquished rights to sue Microsoft over antitrust claims associated with its productivity software, namely WordPerfect and Quattro Pro.

The situation is way uncomfortable since Novell is now a major Microsoft partner that is focusing on the integration of Linux and Windows. Awkward!

Novell, which already got half a billion bucks from Microsoft, is looking for several billion more.

Is the world a less perfect place without WordPerfect? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 05/06/2011 at 1:18 PM


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