Novell claiming three times losses over unfair competition for its WordPerfect word processing application
An appeals court has allowed software maker Novell to proceed with its long antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft.
In its long running case against Microsoft, Novell has accused Microsoft of unfairly removing its operating system and software applications from the market in the 1990s.
Novell was acquired by Attachmate earlier this year. The company is seeking three times its losses in the suit.
In 1996, Novell gave the rights to another company Caldera, which won an antitrust case against Microsoft over the unfair competition in the operating system market. It received a $280m settlement four years later.
In 2004, Novell sued Microsoft again, claiming unfair competition by Microsoft over its WordPerfect word processing application. Novell had also settled separate antitrust claims against Microsoft for $536 million the same year.
Last year, Microsoft won a summary judgement against Novell. The court had said that Novell had lost its right to sue Microsoft after its1996 agreement with Caldera.
Now, the appeals court has said that as the agreement with Caldera was for a different set of products, Novel has the right to sue Microsoft.
"Although the underlying lawsuit involves complex issues of antitrust law, the primary question before us is one of contract interpretation: whether a 1996 contract between Novell and a third company divested Novell of its right to bring the present claim," Judge Allyson Duncan wrote in the 2-1 majority ruling.
Microsoft has said that it is disappointed and considering its next move.
"We are disappointed with the Fourth’s Circuit’s decision … although we are pleased that at this point only one part of one of Novell’s claims remains," said a Microsoft spokeswoman.
"We still are convinced that this lingering claim does not have any merit, and we are considering our next steps."
Novell has not commented on the matter so far.