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CNET News.com: Microsoft: Sun lawsuit tries to have it both ways

“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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