Business, Enterprise, Technology Security

Old Novell Law Suits Giving Bill Gates Grey Hair

Bill Gates has aged some, retired even since 2004 when Novell sued his company, Microsoft, for violating antitrust laws. Could be because Microsoft keeps being drug into court and it ages a father to see his child chastised. That kind of pressure is bound to age a person.

William H. "Bill" Gates IIIThe saga began as early as 1982 when Digital Research sued and won against Microsoft over MS-DOS. As we connect the dots, you see Novell buying Digital Research in 1991.

Novell?s current headline provoking beef with Microsoft began with a law suit seven years ago. It also relates to Microsoft?s operating system, then known as Windows 95. Novell?s stable of products when the affront occurred included a popular spreadsheet, Quattro Pro and WordPerfect which became the industry standard for word processing. That is until Microsoft dropped its Office Suite containing Microsoft Word and Excel into the marketplace. Novell says Microsoft didn?t play fair. Many rhetorically ask "Does it ever?" Novell?s suit alludes to "alleged harm to Novell?s WordPerfect application software business in the mid-1990s."

Since 1982 WordPerfect has been viable on several computers and operating systems, as illustrated by the WordPerfect advertising buttons from Comdex ?95. It ran on the IBM-PC, the DEC Rainbow, Apple IIe, DEC VAX, Atari ST, Macintosh, Amiga, IBM 370 Systems, NeXT, on DOS, Unix, and Windows.

In 1996, Corel acquired WordPerfect, Quattro Pro, Paradox, and the PerfectOffice application suite from Novell. But that hasn?t stopped Novell from pursuing Microsoft for spoiling a good thing while they had it.

Antitrust law suits seem to follow Microsoft like an obsessed stalker. In 2001, Microsoft filed a motion to dismiss certain complaints asserting state law claims related to four separate complaints originating in Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, and Oklahoma. In 2003, where the suits had been consolidated, Maryland?s US District Judge Motz said: "Microsoft?s motion will be granted in all respects." His decision didn?t indicate whether the complaints were valid, only they had not been handled through the proper legal channels.

Novell NetwareNovell has a history of jabbing at Microsoft. Microsoft agreed to pay Novell $536 million cash in exchange for them not pursuing a potential antitrust lawsuit involving Novell?s Netware operating system. Buoyed by the win in 2004, Novell immediately pounced on the loser again claiming that Microsoft misrepresented its intent during Win 95?s development and manipulated the release of that operating system to Novell?s detriment. An attorney for Novell, Jeff Johnson, said "Microsoft severely crippled Novell’s ability to produce a competitive product in a timely fashion." Attempting to squelch the competition has been SOP for the computer world behemoth.

In 2009, after escalating the case to the Federal Court of Appeals, Microsoft paid Canadian i4i $290 million to settle a patent-related lawsuit revolving around customer XML data in Word documents. Appeal Court judges said: "A small company was practicing its patent, only to suffer a loss of market share, brand recognition, and customer goodwill as the result of the defendant’s infringing acts." Microsoft reportedly stripped the offending code out of its 2010 Office Suite.

Notice that these lawsuits end up in Appeal Courts. The computer giant shakes its fist full of dollars at anyone who challenges its control over the marketplace, even though it has cost them a pretty penny over the years.

Novell hopes to come out of top of Microsoft in law suit
Novell hopes to come out of top of Microsoft in law suit

The Maryland District Court was the battle ground in previous law suits. This time, opposing sides take the field in Utah, home of Novell. Novell is seeking to finally land a blow that could cost Microsoft upwards of a billion dollars. Maybe on its home court, Novell could be the victor. However, the same judge that dismissed charges against Microsoft so many years ago in Maryland is presiding over this case in Utah. Who can guess what the outcome will be, and why.

However, we can bet that each challenge puts another grey hair on Bill Gates aging head. Especially when he is personally called to testify.