Novell announced yesterday that it's suing Microsoft to prevent the software giant from "making and distributing false and misleading statements about Novell and its products in violation of state and federal laws." Microsoft recently launched an ad campaign aimed at Novell customers, in which Microsoft mailed Novell customers a breakfast cereal box that displayed various false and misleading statements about Novell NetWare 6, which competes with Microsoft's Active Directory (AD) product.
Novell highlighted these offending statements: "What's the expiration date on that NetWare platform?" the box reads. "As a result of the recent Cambridge Technology Partners merger, Novell is shifting its focus from software development to consultancy services." And, "You're left with a server platform without the full support of its manufacturer. Which means increasing costs as it rapidly becomes obsolete, forcing you to implement time-consuming retrofits."
"These questions and statements are completely false and misleading," said Novell Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Stewart Nelson. "Microsoft has tried to create a fictitious end of life for NetWare to create fear and uncertainty within Novell's customer base and to discourage future customers from doing business with Novell. While corporate America has long grown used to Microsoft's bullying business tactics, with this campaign Microsoft has crossed well over the line. These misrepresentations about Novell, its products, and product support go far beyond comparative advertising and we believe are clear violations of state and federal law."
Novell says this isn't the first time Microsoft has used false statements in its anti-Novell advertising. The company points to an article published on the MSN Money Central Web site last April that falsely states, "Novell recently announced that it is moving out of the software business and into the network consulting and services business." After repeated complaints from Novell, which firmly noted that Novell isn't leaving the software business and that there isn't any expiration date for NetWare, Microsoft finally changed the statement on Money Central. And, of course, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged Microsoft with false advertising because of a Pocket PC ad earlier this year in which the company claimed that its handheld devices could do things that Palm OS devices couldn't.
Microsoft says that it has no comment about the charges.