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Zombie Microsoft antitrust case shuffles to retrial

Jury 'hopelessly' deadlocked

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Novell's reanimated antitrust case against Microsoft's Word is reported to have hit "hopeless" deadlock, with Novell pushing for a fresh trial.

A jury in Salt Lake City hearing the $1bn case can't make up its mind whether Microsoft broke the law, according to The Wall St Journal.

According to the WSJ, after a brief examination of the case the jury became quickly and "hopelessly" deadlocked. Jurors received the case Wednesday and on Friday morning told Judge J Frederick Motz they were deadlocked.

Attorneys for Novell had pleaded that jurors be given more time. Now they are seeking a retrial.

"Novell still believes in the strength of its claim," Novell attorney Jim Lundberg in a statement here. "Clearly, this is a complicated technical case and Novell is hopeful that a retrial will allow the opportunity to address any uncertainties some of the jurors had with this trial."

Novell brought the case against Microsoft in 2004 and it was thought long-ago extinct. This May, however, Novell was allowed to go to appeal.

Novell claims Microsoft withheld vital technical information that would have allowed the company's WordPerfect to work properly on the then-new Windows 95.

This, according to Novell, helped cripple WordPerfect and propel Word to becoming the number-one piece of word processing software. Novell eventually sold WordPerfect.

The case saw Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates brought in to testify in November. Gates said it was hard work that had ensured Word's success. He also said support for WordPerfect had been removed from Windows 95 because it was feared it would crash the operating system.

"It was a ground-breaking piece of work, and it was very well received when we got it done," Gates said. ®

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