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CNET Microsoft: Sun lawsuit tries to have it both ways

Sep 14, 1999, 21:08 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Dan Goodin)

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"Microsoft today made a last-ditch effort to avert a crippling ruling in its legal duel with Sun Microsystems, arguing that a recent federal appeals court opinion calls into question key positions taken in the case over the Java programming language.

At issue is whether Sun's claims--that Microsoft illegally made incompatible versions of Java--are rooted in principles related to copyright or breach-of-contract law. Sun contends that Microsoft's conduct raises claims under both theories."

"The distinction is much more than a mere academic exercise. A finding of copyright infringement allows a judge wide latitude in issuing a permanent injunction against the offender. A finding that a contract has been breached, on the other hand, provides much more limited options. What's more, Microsoft's Java license specifically limits Sun's legal options in the event Microsoft is found to be in breach."

"So far Judge Whyte has largely sided with Sun on the core issues in the case. Last November, he issued a preliminary injunction saying Sun was likely to prove Microsoft had violated its Java license and requiring that only compatible versions be shipped while the case continued. Although a federal appeals court last month sent the decision back for further reconsideration, the injunction may nonetheless become permanent if Whyte follows through on his tentative ruling."

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