The lawsuit was initially filed in 2004 by Novell, which said in court papers that Microsoft “deliberately targeted and destroyed” its WordPerfect and QuattroPro programs in order to protect its Windows operating system monopoly.
Novell accuses Microsoft of targeting its programs because they could run on alternative operating systems and therefore could enable alternatives to Windows to gain market share.
Microsoft argued that Novell did not compete in the operating systems market, and therefore cannot claim to have been harmed by alleged anti-competitive conduct by Microsoft in that market.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond, sided with Novell and allowed the suit to proceed. Microsoft’s lawyers said that decision expands the application of antitrust laws “far beyond their intended scope.”
The Windows software maker fought a three-year legal battle with the federal government over whether the company was abusing its operating system monopoly to grab market share in the Internet browsing market. As part of a settlement with the federal government and 17 states, Microsoft agreed to court oversight of its business practices. A federal judge in January extended that oversight to November 2012.
The Supreme Court’s conclusion allows Novell’s lawsuit to continue. The case is Microsoft Corp. vs. Novell Inc., 07-924.