Microsoft-Novell ends in mistrial after jury fails to reach verdict

It has been a long trial that has included testimony by Bill Gates but it the battle is not over yet with a judge issuing a mistrial in the case. The Seattle Times states the judge declared a mistrial after the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision. As such, the litigation for Microsoft is not over.

The following statement was issued by Microsoft after the dismissal:

"We are disappointed that the jury was unable to reach a verdict. However, we very much appreciate their service throughout the trial, and we remain confident that Novell's claims here do not have merit, and look forward to the next steps in the process."

As we have reported before, the jury was trying to determine the fate of a lawsuit filed several years ago by Novell. Novell claimed that Microsoft deliberately delayed the release of Windows 95 in order "to suppress the sales of WordPerfect and Novell's related office productivity applications." Even though Novell sold off WordPerfect and its Quattro Pro application to Corel back in 1996, Novell was asking the court to award them between $500 million to $1.2 billion in its lawsuit against Microsoft.

The lawsuit went to trial in mid-October and in November, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates himself testified in the case for two days. Gates and Microsoft's attorneys have claimed that Microsoft feared that Novell's WordPerfect might crash Windows 95. 

[Update] The story was initially stated to be dismissed but has since been corrected to state it was a mistrial. 

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Microsoft plans more non-Microsoft platform products in 2012

Next Story

Apple's tablet marketshare shrinks only slightly during Q4

14 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

As announced earlier, Novell Inc., Orem, Utah, is getting out of the desktop applications business, but staying in the groupware market. That intent led Novell to sell the once-mighty WordPerfect word processing product (as well as the PerfectOffice suite and Quattro Pro spreadsheet) to Ottawa-based Corel Corp. in a deal valued at about $124 million that included Corel common stock. Corel is the developer of CorelDraw PC graphics software.

The total transaction with Corel represents about $186 million, according to Novell, which is keeping the GroupWise groupware technology acquired when the company bought WordPerfect in 1994 for $855 million. After the sale is complete, and factoring in what Novell paid for Quattro Pro, Novell CEO Bob Frankenberg said the leftover GroupWise purchase price equates to about $800 million -- "a very good price, especially compared to what IBM paid for Lotus Notes."

As for WordPerfect users, a fiercely loyal bunch, the deal means that "WordPerfect is now in the hands of someone who really wants it," said Eric Goldreich, director of IS at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, a Los Angeles law firm that has used WordPerfect products since 1987.

Let me get this straight. Novell exited a software segment by offloading a business unit, at a profit... and was suing Microsoft because they wanted to make MORE money from their initially profitable business decisions?

Yeah, right. Those in favor of Novell's claims are biased to say the least.

Does anyone know what the actual feature was that Microsoft left out that Novell is claiming the set-back? I have never seen anyone state it and that to me is important to really decide if Microsoft was in the wrong.

Astra.Xtreme said,
Glad to see this was thrown out. It was a ridiculous claim to begin with.

It wasn't thrown out. There will be a retrial as the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

theyarecomingforyou said,
It clearly wasn't that ridiculous if an informed jury couldn't come to a unanimous agreement.

You expect a jury to fully understand the technical details enough to make an informed decision? I highly doubt it.

Their bias will come into play because they have been told Microsoft is a monopoly and did bad things so they will project that bias into this case.

libertas83 said,
You expect a jury to fully understand the technical details enough to make an informed decision? I highly doubt it.
Yes, just like in murder trials and every other trial. It is the responsibility of the lawyers for both sides to relate the technical details to laypeople.

The reality is that a single person sided with Microsoft and refused to budge. Every other person sided with Novell. Yet that seems to have been largely overlooked.

theyarecomingforyou said,
Yes, just like in murder trials and every other trial. It is the responsibility of the lawyers for both sides to relate the technical details to laypeople.

The reality is that a single person sided with Microsoft and refused to budge. Every other person sided with Novell. Yet that seems to have been largely overlooked.

Sorry, but you have your facts quite wrong...

theyarecomingforyou said,
It clearly wasn't that ridiculous if an informed jury couldn't come to a unanimous agreement.

No it was ridiculous because there is no way to prove anything here. Novell claimed Windows was delayed so they could kill off WordPerfect. Well that's a bold claim because how would that ever be proven? And the other problem is that how could it ever be proven that Microsoft didn't in fact delay Windows for that reason? Either side can't fully be justified. Especially after all these years. It will probably come down to a coin flip when the jurors get fed up of this trial and just want it to be over with, so they pick sides with whoever bitches the most. Not exactly a valid means of settlement.

M_Lyons10 said,
How could the jury be unable to come to an agreement on this? Clearly Novell planted someone in the jury pool...

The jury vote was 11-1 for Novell. That's what happens when you have the trial in Salt Lake City. That's about as impartial as Seattle would've been.

It's good that the entire process has been a complete waste of time and money that hasn't produced an outcome? That seems like a very illogical stance to take. This will now head to retrial and it could take many more years before we see an outcome. The only winners here, as usual, are the lawyers.