Hold-out juror saves Microsoft's bacon in $1 billion WordPerfect case


By Noel Young, Correspondent

December 17, 2011 | 3 min read

One hold-out juror yesterday stopped the WordPerfect firm Novell winning a stunning victory over Microsoft.

Bill Gates

The jury in Salt Lake City was reported to be divided 11-1 after a two-month trial. The judge declared them deadlocked and dismissed them. They had been deliberating for three days in the antitrust case involving Novell and Microsoft.

Late yesterday afternoon, the jury foreman sent a note to the judge saying,``I’m sorry, very sorry we cannot come to one accord. I’ve done the best I know how.’’

Later in the courtroom, the seven-woman, five-man jury, who appeared "haggard and distraught" according to the Salt Lake Tribune , shook their heads when the judge asked if there was any chance of reaching a verdict. One woman juror wept.

Novell had claimed Microsoft broke antitrust laws when company chairman Bill Gates made a key decision on the Windows 95 computer operating system..

Novell alleged the withdrawal of support for a previously announced feature of Windows 95 was intended to harm their product . In evidence a"feisty" Gates denied he made the decision to slow Novell’s effort to produce a Windows 95 version of WordPerfect.

Lawyers for Novell said that, after weeks of mostly technical testimony and evidence, the jury were 11-1 in favour of Novell, .

Novell’s lead lawyer Jeffrey Johnson said "One juror had strongly held technical views and he wasn’t going to budge. It’s gratifying the jury by and large saw our point of view."

Novell Legal Vice President Jim Lundberg said the company would seek a new trial.

With the hung jury, Microsoft escaped a verdict that it had engaged in anti-competitive conduct as well as nearly $1 billion in potential damages, said the Tribune .

Microsoft lawyers said it wasn’t clear that jurors had deadlocked 11-1 because they had "stalled" part way through filling out the verdict form.


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