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Originally published Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at 8:12 PM

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Novell lawsuit against Microsoft dismissed

Microsoft Corp. won dismissal of a lawsuit blaming it for undermining Novell Inc.'s WordPerfect program, ending the last private ...

Microsoft won dismissal of a lawsuit blaming it for undermining Novell's WordPerfect program, ending the last private antitrust action against the world's largest software maker, according to the judge.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz in Baltimore said that since Novell transferred its claims related to its PC operating-system products to Caldera in a 1996 purchase agreement, it couldn't pursue the lawsuit.

The suit is a byproduct of the U.S. government's landmark case against Microsoft that was settled more than eight years ago after the Redmond company was declared an illegal monopolist.

Motz said his earlier ruling allowing Novell to pursue two antitrust claims was in error.

"Novell's primary contention is that all the asset purchase agreement meant to assign was claims for harm inflicted" on Novell's PC operating system, Motz said. "Here there is no ambiguity in the asset purchase agreement. It encompasses all claims 'associated directly or indirectly with'" operating system products.

Novell, which briefly owned WordPerfect in the mid-1990s, alleged Microsoft's anticompetitive tactics undermined the product.

WordPerfect's share of the word-processing market fell to less than 10 percent in 1996 from almost 50 percent in 1990.

Ian Bruce, a Novell spokesman, had no immediate comment. Kevin Kutz, a Microsoft spokesman, said the company is pleased with the ruling.

Verdict for Novell

in Unix battle

SALT LAKE CITY — Novell never sold ownership rights to Unix computer-software code when it allowed another company to take over the servicing of the venerable server operating system used by large corporations, a Utah jury decided Tuesday.

The verdict was a setback for The SCO Group of Lindon, Utah, which had hoped a victory would lift it out of bankruptcy and strengthen a separate case alleging IBM misappropriated Unix code for improvements that made the open-source Linux operating system run better.

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Former Novell executives testified that they intended to sell the copyrights along with the Unix operating system, and SCO Group offered an amendment written a year after the 1995 sale that transferred the rights.

"Obviously, we're disappointed in the jury's decision," said SCO trial lawyer Stuart H. Singer.

The Associated Press

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