Upon the dismissal of several antitrust claims potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars, most companies would be hitting the PR wires immediately with a big dose of "I told you so," or "Whew, we're not going to go bankrupt!" But for tech's whipping boy and courtroom regular Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), it's just a little bit of good news, if it's good news at all.

Friday, a federal judge in Baltimore threw out four of six antitrust claims that Novell (NASDAQ:NOVL) had made against Microsoft regarding WordPerfect and other desktop productivity software. As I've mentioned elsewhere, last year, Redmond paid Novell $536 million to settle claims related to NetWare. It appears to have been just enough to whet Novell's appetite, since the company filed its antitrust claims on the productivity software in short order.

It's not as though Microsoft got a friendly defense from the bench. The claims were essentially tossed out on a technicality. The judge ruled that four of the claims weren't filed in a timely manner. Two of the claims remain, including Microsoft's alleged achievement of monopoly power through anticompetitive conduct and alleged exclusionary agreements amounting to restraint of trade.

For its part, Novell is fortunate to have salvaged two of the counts. Let's face it, Microsoft is no longer its bogeyman. Novell's fragmented and newly Linux-devoted business operations face competition from hungry upstarts such as Red Hat (NASDAQ:RHAT) and tech dinosaurs such as IBM (NYSE:IBM). The longer the impasse continues with Microsoft, the more likely Redmond will just whip out the checkbook one more time, and cash is cash.

The ruling's impact will barely be perceptible for Microsoft shareholders. Most of the potential cash outlay was already accounted for by legal set-asides last year, and with continued heat from entire continental trade co-ops, Novell's continuing claims are low on Mr. Softy's list of potential legal threats.

For related Foolishness:

At the time of publication, Seth Jayson had positions in no company mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.