Jury Hung in $1B Microsoft-Novell Antitrust Case

Dennis Faas's picture

A federal jury has failed to reach a verdict in the $1 billion case of Novell versus Microsoft.

Novel has charged that Microsoft falsely encouraged it to develop WordPerfect, a legacy word processing program, then reneged on its assurances.

The Utah-based company originally filed suit in 2004. The case has not only dragged on for seven years -- it also brought Bill Gates to the witness stand for two days of testimony.

Microsoft Wanted More Market Share

Novell claims in the suit that Microsoft tricked Novell into committing vital resources to development of the software it never really wanted. When the project was over, Novell wound up selling its interest in WordPerfect for $1.2 billion less than it had invested. (Source: physorg.com)

The actual jury trial began about two months ago, and was completed last week. District Judge J. Frederick Motz handed jurors the case on December 8, 2011. Although the jury avidly dug into the issues and asked some pertinent questions, by Friday, December 17, 2011, they ultimately concluded they could not all agree on a verdict.

Judge Motz queried the jury repeatedly, urging them to try again to reach a verdict. He was reported to have told them: "This has been a very long and expensive case," one that he felt should not be allowed to end without a verdict.

Jurors "Hopelessly" Deadlocked on Verdict

Attorneys for the plaintiff urged Judge Motz to send the jury back to work, in hopes the apparent deadlock would give way to a compromise verdict. However, the jurors repeatedly insisted they were "hopelessly" deadlocked, the usual standard. Afterwards, it appeared that just one of the jurors was unwilling to find in favor of Novell. (Source: bloomberg.com)

As a result of the deadlock, Novell received no award and no satisfaction from the suit or the trial. Undeterred by the frustrating result, Novell announced that it will take steps to reinstate the case and seat a new jury.

Microsoft, on the other hand, immediately began planning to file the appropriate paperwork to have the judge rule against Novell's complaint in a way that would prevent a second trial. Novell has had previous efforts to try this case dismissed, but appealed that decision and won the right to this jury trial.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet