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A legal face-off between two of the giants in the high-tech industry is under way in a Salt Lake City courtroom as the companies, Novell Inc and Microsoft Corp, argue over fair business practices.
In 2004, Novell filed a lawsuit against Microsoft, alleging that the Redmond-based software company violated U.S. antitrust laws through its arrangements with other computer manufacturers when it released Windows 95.
According to news reports, opening statements from both parties were heard by a jury Tuesday in a U.S. District Court, in a trial that has been predicted to last eight weeks.
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, is expected to provide his testimony.
Jeff Johnson, the attorney for The Provo, Utah-based Novell, said, “This is a case about fair play.”
Johnson revealed to jurors that Microsoft used “deception” and the “classic bait and switch” when it made Novell believe that it was developing an operating system that is designed to suit WordPerfect.
He argued that Gates removed a vital component from, and delayed the release of, Windows 95 to prevent Novell from gaining a strong foothold in the emerging home computer software market.
“Microsoft severely crippled Novell’s ability to produce a competitive product in a timely fashion,” Johnson told the jurors.
Novell did not launch its PerfectOffice suite until May 1996 while, Microsoft Office, which included Word and Excel, already took off.
For David Tulchin, Microsoft’s attorney, “Microsoft developed in a way that was best for Microsoft. That’s what it’s supposed to do. That’s what we call competition in our country.”
Tulchin pointed out that Microsoft had nothing to do with the failure of Novell to launch. He said, “The blame really lies at the feet of Novell and the feet of WordPerfect Corporation.”