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Friday, 6 December, 2002, 11:33 GMT
Microsoft accused of 'knee-clubbing' rival
Microsoft/Sun logos
Sun Microsystems is crossing swords with Microsoft
The judge in Microsoft's latest court case has said the computer giant's tactics amount to knee-clubbing of its competitors.

Judge J Frederick Motz made his comments in the third and final day of a hearing brought by Sun Microsystems against the world's biggest software company.

He said Microsoft's refusal to include Sun's Java programming language in its Windows operating system was similar to the knee-clubbing attack on Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan by her rival Tonya Harding's ex-husband in 1994.

In a rhetorical aside, the judge asked if there was a "social value" in being able to carry on one's business in a market "undistorted by your competitors".

Threat to monopoly

The Sun case is one of four brought by competitors in the wake of Microsoft's long anti-trust suit with the government.

The company was found to have abused its monopoly position, although the remedies were watered down extensively in a court ruling this year.

At stake for Sun is the future of Java, Sun's cross-platform programming language.

Java was created so programmers could "write once, run anywhere" - in other words, create programs which were not dependent on the user's computer using a specific operating system.

Microsoft has opposed Java for years, fearing it could eat into its Windows monopoly over the desktop, and made sure the Java included with Windows would not work properly with other operating systems.

Initially it refused to put Java in its Windows XP system released last year, but has now said it will include its own version - but only until 2004.

Considering the verdict

Sun's lawyer described Microsoft's behaviour as a "mugging", while Judge Motz said it was comparable to a baseball team that had a camera on the other side's supposedly secret signals.

But Sun should probably not get its hopes up quite yet.

The judge made it clear that he had not made up his mind whether an injunction to force the reinstallation of Java was required, and would give his decision in 10 days.

The "standard of harm" which would justify an injunction had not necessarily been proved, he said.

Earlier this week the judge had suggested to Sun that it should drop the request for a preliminary injunction and head straight back to court for a full hearing.


The settlement

Appeal court ruling

Appeal hearing

Analysis
See also:

04 Dec 02 | Business
02 Dec 02 | Business
29 Nov 02 | Business
29 Nov 02 | Business
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