SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Attorneys for a U.S. company that brought a $1 billion antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft Corp. said it will seek to retry the case with a new jury after a federal jury failed to reach a verdict.
Novell Inc. sued the software giant in 2004, claiming Microsoft duped it into developing the once-popular WordPerfect writing program for Windows 95 only to pull the plug so Microsoft could gain market share with its own product. Novell says it was later forced to sell WordPerfect for a $1.2 billion loss.
The trial began two months ago and included two days of testimony from Bill Gates last month. Jurors got the case on Wednesday. After much confusion, and some perplexing questions from the panel, they told U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz they were deadlocked by early Friday evening.
Motz repeatedly asked them if they could keep trying.
"This has been a very long and expensive case," the judge told the panel.
Novell attorneys pleaded with Motz to give the panel just one more day. In the end, however, the 12 jurors told the judge they were "hopelessly" deadlocked, and they later told lawyers a single holdout refused to vote in Novell's favor.
"He had strongly held views about the technical evidence and refused to budge," Novell attorney Jeffrey Johnson said. Jurors offered no comment after the trial.
Novell was left with little to show for a decade of effort.
"Although it's a technically complicated case, we're hoping to convince another jury that our claims have merit," Novell's corporate counsel Jim Lundberg said.
Microsoft said it would file a motion asking the judge to dismiss Novell's complaint for good and avoid a second trial.
"We remain confident that Novell's claims don't have any merit and look forward to the next steps in the process," said Steven Aeschbacher, Microsoft's associate general counsel.
Novell waited until 10 years after Microsoft left WordPerfect behind to file the lawsuit. The company said it was waiting for the U.S. government's antitrust enforcement against Microsoft to wrap up. At first Novell's case was dismissed, but it was later reinstated on appeal.
Microsoft lawyers have argued that Novell's loss of market share was its own doing because the company didn't develop a compatible WordPerfect program until long after the rollout of Windows 95. WordPerfect once had nearly 50 percent of the market for word processing, but its share quickly plummeted to less than 10 percent as Microsoft's own Office programs took hold.
Gates testified last month that he had no idea his decision to drop a tool for outside developers would sidetrack Novell. Gates said he was acting to protect Windows 95 and future versions from crashing.
He said that the company's preferred Word software was superior to WordPerfect, which was a "bulky, slow, buggy product" that did not integrate well with Windows 95.
Novell could have worked around the problem but failed to react quickly, he said.
Novell has argued that Gates ordered Microsoft engineers to reject WordPerfect as a Windows 95 word processing application because he feared it was too good.
Novell's lawsuit is the last major private antitrust case to follow the settlement of a federal antitrust enforcement action against Microsoft more than eight years ago.
Novell is now a wholly owned subsidiary of The Attachmate Group, the result of a merger that was completed earlier this year.
Juror in Microsoft case at peace with decision
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The lone holdout juror who prevented a Utah company from getting as much as $1.2 billion from one-time rival Microsoft Corp. for alleged antitrust violations says he's at peace with his decision.
Corbyn Alvey, a 21-year-old security guard from Magna, told KSL-TV (http://bit.ly/ubPwcB ) that he didn't think there was enough evidence presented during the two-month trial in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City to support the claims of Provo-based Novell Inc.
Novell sued Microsoft in 2004, claiming the software giant duped it into developing the once-popular WordPerfect writing program for Windows 95 only to pull the plug so Microsoft could gain market share with its own product. Novell says it was later forced to sell WordPerfect for a $1.2 billion loss.
"I walk away feeling honestly myself, and I can't speak for the other jurors, that I made the right decision even if it resulted in a hung jury," Alvey said Saturday. "There were so many inferences that needed to be drawn that I felt that it was unfair to Microsoft to go out on a limb and say, 'yes.'"
Alvey described the three days of jury deliberations as stressful. The 11 other jurors sided with Novell.
"Obviously, I wanted to convince them to agree with me and they wanted to convince me to agree with them," he told KSL.
Bill Gates testified last month that he had no idea his decision to drop a tool for outside developers would sidetrack Novell. Gates said he was acting to protect Windows 95 and future versions from crashing.
Novell argued that Gates ordered Microsoft engineers to reject WordPerfect as a Windows 95 word processing application because he feared it was too good.
Alvey said the jury agreed on the technical aspects of the case but disagreed on what Novell could have accomplished "but for" Gates' decision.
"There was a lot of speculation in this 'but for' world," he said.
As for Gates' testimony, Alvey said, "The man was a little sarcastic at times. If anything, it provided a little break from the monotonous questions and answers ... I think from his testimony, what I heard, and what I saw in the emails, Bill Gates was a man who took every threat extremely seriously."
Jury foreman Carl Banks said he tried hard to get a verdict.
"It was a tough case. It was long and it was hard and it was grueling," he said. "We gave it our best shot."
Novell attorneys have said they would seek to retry the case with a new jury. Microsoft said it would file a motion asking the judge to dismiss Novell's complaint for good and avoid a second trial.