Novell-Microsoft Lawsuit Ends In Mistrial--Bill Gates Lives to Testify Another Day

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A $1 billion lawsuit that saw Bill Gates dragged in front of federal judge to testify has proved too hazy for jurors to piece together. But the Microsoft-Novell saga still looks to be far from over.

As it turns out, a single juror was the difference in this case, which had lasted two months and saw Gates testify on two separate days. Jurors told the judge that they were "hopelessly deadlocked" with all but the one member siding with Novell, which had sued saying that company execs were tricked into developing software for Microsoft's Windows 95 operating system, only to see their work trash-binned at the last minute.

And while Novell won't get the money it wanted, the AP reports that the company's attorneys say that they are already planning their appeal.

In the case, Utah-based Novell, Inc. had claimed that Microsoft had promised that Windows 95 would support the WordPerfect and Quattro Pro products, but instead Microsoft withheld crucial information that would make the products compatible and when the time came, switched Windows' main word processor to Microsoft Word--the rest, as they say, being history.

After the switch, Novell nosedived and was forced to sell its programs at a $1.2 billion loss.

Microsoft's attorneys and Gates said that the company didn't violate any laws and merely used its Word program because it was "superior", calling Novell's program a "bulky, slow, buggy product."

The jury (at least the unanimous jury) couldn't say for sure who was right.

After the trial, both Novell's and Microsoft's lawyers expressed dismay with the result (Novell's clearly being the more upset party of the two).

But with the difference in the case being a single juror, Novell's decision to retry the case seems in a new court seems like a no brainer.

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