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Sun sues Microsoft over Java; alleges anticompetitive acts

[MARCH 9, 2002] - Server mainstay and Java language originator Sun Microsystems has filed suit against Microsoft Corp. for what Sun described as anticompetitive violations related to the Java software environment.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif. seeks remedies for, in Sun’s words, “harm inflicted by Microsoft's anticompetitive behavior,” and for damages resulting from Microsoft's efforts to maintain and expand its monopoly.

"This private antitrust lawsuit is intended to restore competition in the marketplace by removing unlawful barriers to the distribution of the Java platform and to interoperability between Microsoft software and competitive technologies,” said Michael Morris, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Sun, in a statement.

In its suit, Sun is seeking preliminary injunctions requiring Microsoft to distribute Sun's Java plug-in as part of Windows XP and Internet Explorer; and to stop distribution of Microsoft's Java Virtual Machine. In addition to this, Sun's suit seeks treble damages as provided by law.

In the course of its multi-year legal battle with the Dept. of Justice and several state attorneys general, Microsoft was found to have forged an illegal monopoly around its Windows operating systems. Suits such as Sun’s have been anticipated in the wake of this event, despite recent Microsoft legal successes, which included moves by the Dept. of Justice to settle the case.

Sun and Microsoft at one time found some common ground on Java. In the early days of the operating system, a licensing pact was achieved. The alliance deteriorated, a Sun suit followed, and a settlement that left room for antitrust suits was reached last year.

Sun's latest move comes several weeks after AOL Time Warner Inc., its former partner in the iPlanet application server business, filed a similar suit against Microsoft. Estimates of the damages sought in the antitrust suit brought by AOL Time Warner against Microsoft exceed $1 billion.

About the Author

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.

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