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Tech Industry

Microsoft wins right to appeal Novell suit

A federal judge tells the software giant it can contest the remaining charges in an antitrust suit.

A federal judge in Baltimore has accepted Microsoft's request for an appeal against the remaining charges in its antitrust suit with Novell.

U.S. District Court Judge J. Frederick Motz ruled that there was sufficient evidence for Microsoft to pursue its appeal of the last two claims standing in the suit, which charges the software giant with engaging in unfair competition with Novell's WordPerfect and Quattro Pro applications. In June, Motz dismissed four related antitrust claims after determining those charges weren't filed within the proper time frame.

In the latest judgment, Motz said that although he "remained comfortable" with his earlier ruling that Novell's case was clear and that the antitrust injury was "self-evident," he was willing to hear Microsoft's appeal. Noting that the case was filed a number of years ago and that Novell's attorneys had also agreed to consider the appeal, Motz said it would be in the best interest of the general public to allow the petition to move forward.

Novell representatives had no comment on the ruling.

As part of his earlier decision to allow the remaining charges, Motz cited an infamous 1997 e-mail sent by Microsoft Office unit chief Jeff Raikes to investor Warren Buffett. In the note, Raikes said that applications such as Word and Excel could serve as a "moat" in protecting Microsoft's Windows business.

Novell first sued Microsoft over WordPerfect in November 2004, only days after reaching a $536 million settlement on other antitrust claims related to Novell's NetWare operating system. Novell also dropped out of the European Union's antitrust case against Microsoft following the settlement.

News.com's Ina Fried contributed to this report.