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Novell sues Microsoft over ad campaign

The software maker's lawsuit charges false advertising and demands that Microsoft publicly renounce its statements.

Software maker Novell on Monday sued Microsoft for alleged false advertising and demanded that its competitor publicly renounce the statements.

In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, Novell accuses Microsoft of false and misleading statements about Novell's software in a direct-mail advertising campaign targeted at Novell's customers last month.

Novell is seeking monetary damages and an injunction to halt Microsoft's ad campaign. Novell also wants Microsoft to correct its alleged misstatements with a new advertising campaign, the suit said

The lawsuit accuses Microsoft of mailing to Novell's customers a breakfast cereal box that states Novell's NetWare network operating system has an expiration date and could become obsolete. NetWare does not have an expiration date, Novell executives said.

"Microsoft has tried to create a fictitious end of life for NetWare to create fear and uncertainty within Novell's customer base and to discourage future customers from doing business with Novell," Novell Executive Vice President Stewart Nelson said in a statement. "While corporate America has long grown used to Microsoft's bullying business tactics, with this campaign Microsoft has crossed well over the line."

Representatives from Microsoft could not immediately be reached for comment.

Novell and Microsoft have a long history of duking it out. Before the ascendance of Windows NT and Windows 2000, Novell had by far the largest market share for server operating systems. But with the rise of the Internet and associated changes in the industry, Novell's market share has ebbed in the face of the Microsoft onslaught and the growth of alternatives such as Linux.

More than 10 years ago, Ray Noorda, Novell's former chief executive and its leader during its heyday, became one of the first in the industry to associate "antitrust" and "anti-competitive" with Microsoft.'s Ben Heskett contributed to this report.