Microsoft, Novell Lawsuit Ends With Sopranos-Style Mistrial


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After seven years in court, Microsoft is expected to ask the U.S. federal judge to dimiss the antitrust suit filed against them by Novell. Novell made their closing arguments in the case last week but a jury was unable to come to a unanimous decision, leaving the judge to declare a mistrial.

Novell originally filed the suit claiming that Microsoft purposely suppressed and sabotaged WordPerfect, a word processing platform developed by Novell, in order to consolidate users to Microsoft Word. Consequently, Novell claims they suffered severe financial loss due to Microsoft's tampering. Alternately, Microsoft has cited Novell's own mismanagement for the decline of WordPerfect's popularity and usability.

From Network World:

In a filing to U.S. federal judge J. Frederick Motz, Microsoft's lawyer said Monday that the company intends to renew its motion for judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

A motion for a judgment as a matter of law is a request for relief on the basis that the opposite party's case does not have legally sufficient evidence for any reasonable jury to take a decision. It can be renewed as a second chance after a jury trial.

In ruling on the renewed motion, under Rule 50 the court may allow judgment on the verdict if the jury returned a verdict, order a new trial, or direct the entry.

Incredibly, some jurors were reported to be in tears after being dismissed. Attorneys on both sides admitted to being disappointed as they were hopeful to get some kind of verdict after all of this time.

Oddly, the jury was hung at an 11-1 decision against Microsoft, which causes me to fondly recall all of those episodes of The Sopranos where the mob dudes would terrorize one poor juror into holding out from agreeing on a verdict. Members of the Sopranos mob family would intimidate and threaten one vulnerable juror in order to coerce them into dissenting from the otherwise unanimous jurors' decision against the accused gangster. Without an agreement among jurors, the case ends in mistrial and the mobster walks free.

But who knows if Microsoft actually has that kind of menacing clout; it all just sounds very odd.

The actual request to dismiss the case is expected to be filed early next year.