Gates Lied About Word Perfect, Novell Attorney Tells Jury

“He wasn’t telling the truth”, Novell attorney Jeff Johnson told the jury on Tuesday; referring to Bill Gates’ testimony in which Microsoft’s chairman vehemently denied charges that Microsoft had unfairly denied access to the software that would have enabled Novell’s release of WordPefect and QuattroPro, to coincide with that of Windows 95. Novell is seeking damages of $1.3 billion, and that amount could be tripled under anti trust law.

Novell is alleging that Microsoft was deliberately targeting Wordperfect and QuattroPro, when it decided to deny outsider programmers access to “extensions”. Gates testified that the extensions were “trivial and unimportant — hardly worth his time”. Johnson told the jury “Mr. Gates’ testimony won’t withstand even casual scrutiny,” Johnson was trying to convince the jury that Gates himself, decided to try to stall Novell’s release of its then top selling Wordperfect and its popular spreadsheet, QuattroPro. Gates’ motive, according to Johnson, was to give The Micorsoft Office Suite a head start in Windows 95.

Microsoft attorney David B. Tulchin told the jury that Novell “showed you not one document in which Novell complained to Microsoft”, referring to the denied extensions.

Groklaw, which has excellent coverage of this trial wrote

If they were not shown any such document, it isn’t because there isn’t any evidence of Novell objecting to Microsoft tactics at the time. Novell presented an internal Microsoft email from Satoshi Nakajima dated October 10, 1994, about hiding IShellBrowswer, and it’s in the Comes exhibits here at Groklaw’s collection, #2158 [PDF]. I don’t know if the jury was allowed to see it, but you can. The judge apparently is being rather stingy in what he’ll allow the jury to hear. Novell motion to reopen the case, which he denied, is found on this page, #307 [PDF]. While you are there, you might want to look at #306, and the exhibits to #306, including a 1995 letter from Robert Frankenberg, then at Novell, to Bill Gates, regarding antitrust concerns over APIs.

Groklaw has been critical of presiding judge, Frederick Motz. They wrote

I confess I have been disturbed by reports of this judge’s conduct at this trial, but the thing about juries is that they are not predictable. So, we’ll see. Maybe they feel the same way I do about the judge. But one thing is for sure, whoever loses will almost certainly appeal.

Final arguments were completed on Tuesday, and the jury began their deliberation on Wednesday. Yesterday, Deseret News reported “Jurors in the billion-dollar Novell-Microsoft antitrust case are apparently wrestling with a number of questions, including what a “hung jury” means.”

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