The Utah Supreme Court has refused to lift a preliminary injunction that bars three former Novell Inc. software engineers from resuming their business.

The court on Friday denied the trio's April 3 application for an emergency stay of the injunction but scheduled an April 20 hearing to consider their petition for permission to appeal the order handed down by 4th District Judge Anthony Schofield.Schofield in late January ordered Jeff Merkey, Darren Major, Larry Angus and their company, Orem-based Timpanogas Research Group Inc., to cease all business related to so-called clustering technology for nine months.

Novell sued the former employees last year, accusing them of pirating the clustering technology.

Schofield's order indicated he was convinced the engineers had taken Novell's technology, which essentially enables the connection of personal computers to create a system that has the power and capacity of a mainframe computer. Schofield suggested Novell will prevail if or when the case goes to trial.

The engineers' Supreme Court filing contends Schofield erred in issuing the order. The company and its principals want to appeal because they believe the injunction is overly broad and harms the public interest by thwarting the development of new technology.

They fear their company may go out of business. Already, the company has laid off 20 employees and the three principals are the only employees.

"The injunction is an attempt to grind us into dust," Merkey said. "It's so vague and broad that it includes everything a computer does."