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Wednesday, 26 January, 2000, 15:07 GMT
Court blow for Microsoft

Sun claims Microsoft saw its software as a threat


A Federal Judge has ruled that Microsoft must use a standard version of the Java software created by Sun Microsystems.

The move is the latest twist in a court case between the two software giants.

Sun filed a suit against Microsoft in 1997 for violating a licensing agreement. It accused Microsoft of having changed its Java software to undermine efforts to create a standard version.

Sun claims that Microsoft changed Java as it feared that the increasingly popular software could challenge the dominance of Microsoft's Windows operating system.

Tuesday's ruling was a reinstatement of an injunction that had been overthrown in the appeals court in November.

The judge however ruled that the dispute did not involve an infringement of copyright law, as Sun claims, but a contract dispute.

The court has yet to make a final ruling on the case.

Victory for who?

Both sides claim victory.

Sun says the issue is copyright infringement, while Microsoft says it is simply a contract dispute.

"This reflects the status quo and Microsoft is already in compliance with the order," Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan said in a statement.

"This strikes fundamentally at the heart of Sun's position in this case and supports Microsoft's oft-stated position that this is a contract dispute between two large and sophisticated companies," he said.

The ruling does not require Microsoft to recall any products, he added.

Sun says the ruling supports its claim that Microsoft engaged in unfair business practice.

"As we have said from the start of this case, Microsoft's misconduct with respect to Sun's Java technology has harmed competition, as well as those who use and rely on the Java technology," Sun attorney Michael Morris said.

Microsoft courtcase

Microsoft is also awaiting the outcome of an ongoing anti-trust case.

A US judge ruled last year that the company held a monopoly position which it used to harm competition and consumers.

That case is now in settlement talks and is expected to return to court on 22 February

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See also:
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15 Oct 99 |  The Company File
Sun calls for Microsoft to be kept intact

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