Gates testifies in $1B lawsuit against Microsoft

Nov 21, 2011 By PAUL FOY , Associated Press
Microsoft founder Bill Gates arrives at the Frank E. Moss federal courthouse in Salt Lake City, Monday, Nov. 21, 2011. Gates was scheduled to testify in a one billion dollar antitrust lawsuit brought by Novell Inc. Gates, wearing a gray suit and a yellow tie, was the first witness to testify as Microsoft lawyers presented their case in the trial that's been ongoing in federal court in Salt Lake City for about a month.(AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)

Microsoft's Bill Gates took the witness stand Monday in a $1 billion antitrust lawsuit accusing the software maker of duping a competitor prior to its rollout of Windows 95.

Gates began his testimony with a history of Microsoft Corp. and was expected to remain on the stand throughout the day. He said he was just 19 when he helped found the .

"We thought everybody would have a personal computer on every desk and in every home," he said. "We wanted to be there and be the first."

Gates, wearing a gray suit and a yellow tie, was the first witness to testify Monday as Microsoft lawyers presented their case in the trial that's been ongoing in federal court in for about a month.

Utah-based . sued Microsoft in 2004, claiming the Redmond, Wash., company violated U.S. antitrust laws through its arrangements with other computer makers when it launched Windows 95. Novell says it was later forced to sell WordPerfect for a $1.2 billion loss.

The company argues that Gates, Microsoft's co-founder, ordered company engineers to reject WordPerfect as a Windows 95 application because he feared it was too good. WordPerfect's share of the market then plummeted from nearly 50 percent to less than 10 percent as Microsoft's own office programs took hold.

Novell attorney Jeff Johnson has conceded that Microsoft was under no to provide advance access to the Windows 95 operating system so Novell could prepare a compatible WordPerfect version. Microsoft, however, enticed Novell to work on a version, only to withdraw support months before Windows 95 hit the market, he said.

Microsoft lawyer David Tulchin said Gates decided against installing WordPerfect because it threatened to crash Windows and couldn't be fixed in time for the rollout. He argued that Novell's missed opportunity was its own fault, and that Microsoft had no obligation to give a competitor a leg up.

"Novell never complained to Microsoft," Tulchin said during arguments Friday. "There's nothing in the evidence, no documents."

Johnson maintains Novell was tricked in violation of federal so Microsoft could monopolize the market.

"We got stabbed in the back," he said.

Microsoft is seeking a dismissal, calling the claims groundless.

Throughout arguments Friday, U.S. District Judge Frederick Motz openly expressed doubts that Novell's claims had merit.

"I don't see why I have to give a product to a competitor so he can beat me," Motz told Novell attorneys.

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SteveL
4 / 5 (4) Nov 21, 2011
"Novell never complained to Microsoft," Tulchin said during arguments Friday. "There's nothing in the evidence, no documents."

- Legal-speak for; "Any hard drives with incriminating evidence have been sitting in a land fill in China for more than 10 years now. Good luck proving anything."
Skepticus_Rex
3.7 / 5 (6) Nov 21, 2011
Actually, in the case of Novell I'm inclined to lean toward Microsoft. Novell is not doing so well internally and it looks like they are trying to get a fresh injection of cash at another company's expense.

If there was evidence, Novell should have had copies. These should have been submitted to the court at the time the case was filed. And, why the hell wait so damned long to file such a case as this one? After all, these were events that were alleged to have taken place in 1994-1995.

Windows 95 was unstable and insecure enough that it did not need WordPerfect to crash it better. I can't say I blame them. :)

(Written from Fedora 16 Linux (KDE 4.7.3 environment) using FireFox 8.0).
SemiNerd
5 / 5 (1) Nov 21, 2011
"Novell never complained to Microsoft," Tulchin said during arguments Friday. "There's nothing in the evidence, no documents."

- Legal-speak for; "Any hard drives with incriminating evidence have been sitting in a land fill in China for more than 10 years now. Good luck proving anything."

Anyone can conjure up any evidence one wants by simply saying it exists, because the other company destroyed it. However, in this case had Novell complained, or had documents demonstrating anything at all as evidence of what they are claiming, at the least, THEY should have retained it. The fact that they did not, is strong evidence that it never existed in the first place, and that the claims are bogus.
SincerelyTwo
not rated yet Nov 21, 2011
So, what's Bill's reason for wanting to help Novell at this point? Guilt? Boredom? Respect for an old rivalry?

Novell seems pretty desperate, this is kind of absurd. Bill giving them some help is even more mind blowing.

... honestly why doesn't Bill just cut them a check and save all this time and effort?
Graeme
not rated yet Nov 21, 2011
This is likely to be the last dying twitch of Novell.