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U.S. Supreme Court rejects Microsoft antitrust appeal

Novell can continue with its private suit against Microsoft for alleged antitrust behavior in competing with Novell's desktop PC programs in the 1990s.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied a Microsoft appeal to an antitrust case that dates back to Novell's desktop PC software business in the mid-1990s.

The move leaves standing a lower court ruling that says Novell can sue Microsoft under federal antitrust laws. Novell argued that Microsoft used its monopoly power to sink Novell's QuattroPro spreadsheet and WordPerfect word processor.

The court had no comment and Chief Justice John Roberts abstained because he is a Microsoft shareholder, according to the Associated Press.

"Microsoft specifically targeted WordPerfect and Novell's other office productivity applications because they threatened Microsoft's Windows monopoly," according to the Novell court filing quoted by the Bloomberg news service.

In its case, Novell also said that Microsoft withheld technical information to make WordPerfect work with Windows 95.

In its appeal, Microsoft argued that federal antitrust laws don't apply to the case because Novell does not compete in operating systems.

In the late 1990s, Microsoft settled federal and state antitrust suits against it, which includes ongoing oversight over the company's actions.

The Novell case is the largest of remaining private suits against the company.

Microsoft contended in its appeal that Novell can't invoke the U.S. antitrust laws because it didn't compete against Windows in the operating system market.

Update 12:23 pm Pacific: Microsoft released a statement on Monday regarding the case, explaining its rationale to appeal the lower court's ruling.

"We realize the Supreme Court reviews a small percentage of cases each year, but we filed our petition because it offered an opportunity to address the question of who may assert antitrust claims. We look forward to addressing this and other substantive matters in the case before the trial court. We believe the facts will show that Novell's claims, which are 12 to 14 years old, are without merit."