Microsoft-Novell lawsuit enters third day of jury deliberations

The trial in Salt Lake City that centers on the lawsuit between Microsoft and Novell will be entering its third day of jury deliberations later today with no hint yet if the 12 member jury is getting close to a verdict. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that during the second day of deliberations on Thursday, the only activity from the jury was a request to find out the meaning of the term "middleware." Attorneys from both sides of the lawsuit argued about that definition before one was later sent to the jury.

There's no word as to why the jury members wanted a clear definition of the term "middleware" which is usually used as a way to identify software that bridges two different types of other software programs, or one that can work on different operating systems.

As we have reported before, the jury is determining the fate of a lawsuit filed several years ago by Novell. The company claims 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 is still 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. If the jury does in fact find in favor of Novell in this case, Judge Motz could impose an even bigger penalty on Microsoft than the one Novell had asked for which could go as high as $3 billion.

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