updated 6/14/2005 3:11:34 PM ET 2005-06-14T19:11:34

Novell Inc. can proceed with two of its six antitrust claims against Microsoft Corp., a federal judge ruled.

Novell alleges Microsoft used its monopoly power to limit sales of Novell's office productivity applications, including WordPerfect, a word processing program, and Quattro Pro, a spreadsheet program. (MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz cited an e-mail from a Microsoft executive to billionaire investor Warren Buffett of Omaha in allowing two of the claims to proceed.

In the 1997 e-mail, Jeff Raikes, head of Microsoft's Office software unit, sought to persuade Buffett to invest in Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, saying the company's Word word processing and Excel spreadsheet program could secure its operating system business.

Raikes noted that if Microsoft owned "key 'franchises' built on top" of its Windows operating system it could "dramatically widen the 'moat' that protects the operating system business."

"We hope to make a lot of money off these franchises, but even more important is that they should protect our Windows royalty per PC ... And success in those businesses will help increase the opportunity for future pricing discretion."

Waltham, Mass.-based Novell claims Microsoft head Bill Gates targeted Novell applications by name in company documents. Those documents explain that the integration of Web browsing functions into Windows and Microsoft's refusal to publish certain functions were part of a strategy to exclude Novell's applications from the market.

The remaining four claims were dismissed because Novell waited too long to file them, Motz said in his ruling Friday.

"Novell is pleased with the decision of the judge to allow the antitrust case to proceed," Novell spokesman Kevan Barney said. "The case will proceed and we can continue to pursue damages. We're looking forward to moving the case to trial."

Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake said the company was pleased that four of the six counts were dismissed and did not have any comment on the two remaining claims.

The case was filed in November in Utah and transferred last month to the federal court in Maryland.

Novell, which sold WordPerfect and Quattro Pro to Corel in 1996, has previously reached a $536 million settlement with Microsoft on other antitrust claims involving its NetWare operating system.

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