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Microsoft gains in latest Java ruling

A U.S. Appeals Court yesterday offered up a mixed ruling in the long-running Java legal fight between Sun and Microsoft. The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a District Court's preliminary injunction requiring Microsoft to carry Sun's approved version of Java together with its Windows operating system.

At the same time, the Appeals Judges affirmed Sun's preliminary injunction request for copyright infringement - a move that would legally halt Microsoft efforts to offer its version of Java.

Thus, Sun cannot now force Microsoft to carry Sun's Java, while Microsoft is barred from offering its Java variant. Microsoft is seen ahead on points in this round, because the company already has stopped its efforts to distribute its own Java virtual machine.

These recent legal proceedings are something of a backdrop to a larger case that sees Sun suing Microsoft for anticompetitive behavior in middleware and desktop markets. That case is, in turn, something of a backdrop to the U.S. Dept. of Justice's antitrust case against Microsoft, which, despite a finding that Microsoft had acted as an illegal monopoly, has largely been settled.

Sun was quick to respond. The company took the position that this latest legal step was a victory for the Java community.

In a statement, Sun said that while it was disappointed in the delay in forcing Microsoft to carry its Java Virtual Machine in the Windows operating system, it was vindicated overall. Sun pointed out that the District Court affirmed U.S. District Court Judge J. Frederick Motz's earlier determination that Microsoft engaged in anticompetitive acts.

The Java-related injunctions covered by yesterday's rulings were attempts to effect Java's position in some software markets while the Sun-Microsoft case continued to go forward.


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For more on the battle between Sun and Microsoft, click here.

About the Author

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

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