Court Ruling Brings Renewed Chance for Novell-Microsoft Settlement

The Supreme Court's decision might make Microsoft more willing to negotiate a settlement, a source tells eWEEK.

SALT LAKE CITY-Novell has welcomed the decision by the Supreme Court March 17 that allows its antitrust suit against Microsoft to move forward.

That decision follows a ruling by the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., that Novell can continue with its multibillion-dollar antitrust lawsuit, which deals with the damage the company alleges Microsoft did to its onetime WordPerfect line of office applications.

In an interview with eWEEK at its BrainShare conference here March 17, Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian acknowledged that Novell and Microsoft had not been able to reach an agreement over the WordPerfect matter when they negotiated their technical co-operation and patent agreement in 2006.

"In the spirit of open conversation and in the spirit of looking at the different things we could solve between the two companies, this came up in that normal course, and it was one of those things that we agreed to put on the shelf. We just disagreed. It will happen again, but I'm impressed at the way we both handled it and the professionalism involved," he said.

Novell felt very good about its position with regard to the case, Hovsepian said, but Microsoft also did, which "is unfortunately why we ended up having to use the legal process."

But a source close to the case said the Supreme Court's decision may make Microsoft more willing to negotiate a settlement, particularly in the light of the ongoing antitrust against it by the European Union.