SALT LAKE CITY -- High-tech industry giants Novell Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are in a Salt Lake City courtroom, squabbling over fair business practices.
Novell 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.
A jury heard opening statements Tuesday in U.S. District Court in a trial predicted to last eight weeks.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates is expected to testify.
"This is a case about fair play," said Novell attorney Jeff Johnson.
He told jurors Microsoft used "deception" and the "classic bait and switch" when it led Novell to believe it was developing an operating system suited to WordPerfect.
He contends Gates removed a key component from and delayed the release of Windows 95 to keep Novell from gaining a foothold in the emerging home computer software market.
"Microsoft severely crippled Novell's ability to produce a competitive product in a timely fashion," Johnson said.
Novell did not release its PerfectOffice suite until May 1996, too late to jump on the Windows 95 juggernaut. Meanwhile, Microsoft Office, which contained Word and Excell, took off.
"Microsoft developed in a way that was best for Microsoft. That's what it's supposed to do," said Microsoft attorney David Tulchin. "That's what we call competition in our country."
Microsoft had nothing to do with Novell's failure to launch, Tulchin said.
"The blame really lies at the feet of Novell and the feet of WordPerfect Corporation."
Both companies trace their roots to Utah County. Provo-based Novell bought Orem-based WordPerfect in 1994 for $1.5 billion.
Novell seeks $500 million to $1.2 billion in compensation.
Before now, the lawsuit has been argued in Maryland, where the federal court consolidated several other antitrust cases involving Microsoft.
U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz, of Baltimore, will preside over the trial in Utah.
Novell, which sold WordPerfect and Quattro Pro to Corel in 1996, previously reached a $536 million settlement with Microsoft on other antitrust claims involving its NetWare operating system.