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Microsoft prevails as Supreme Court ends antitrust case

A lawsuit stemming back to the launch of Windows 95 is concluded as the country’s highest court declines to hear Novell’s appeal alleging Microsoft's anticompetitive practices with its WordPerfect software.


Novell's decade-long lawsuit against Microsoft for alleged antitrust violations has definitively come to an end. The US Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear Novell's appeal of the case, according to Reuters.

While Utah-based software maker Novell filed its suit against Microsoft in 2004, the claims for the case stem back to the launch of Windows 95 in 1995.

The suit involved Microsoft's decision to pull away from supporting Novell's WordPerfect and Quattro Pro software by holding back key technical information required to make them compatible with Windows 95. Novell alleged this action broke US antitrust laws because it hurt WordPerfect's chance to compete against Microsoft Office.

In its suit, Novell was seeking roughly $1.2 billion in damages. It claimed Microsoft's actions resulted in a significant loss of market share for both WordPerfect and Quattro Pro. As a result, Novell said it was forced to sell both products to Corel in 1996 at a substantial loss after initially buying them for more than $1 billion.

In response, Microsoft denied the claims and maintained it rejected WordPerfect for Windows 95 because the software was unstable.

After years of bouncing around from one court to the next, US federal judge Frederick Motz finally ruled in 2012 that Novell could no longer pursue the case because it was unable to provide sufficient evidence that Microsoft maintained a monopoly of the operating systems market.

Novell appealed that decision to the US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, which upheld Motz's ruling. Then, Novell appealed the 10th Circuit's decision to the US Supreme Court.

Because the Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal, Motz's ruling will be left intact. It appears Microsoft is pleased with the Supreme Court's decision.

"We're happy this case is now over for good and think it shows we'll persistently defend ourselves from lawsuits we think are meritless," a company spokesperson told CNET.

Novell declined to comment when contacted by CNET.