Microsoft, Sun Both Score Wins in Antitrust Battle

Court struck down Sun's request that Microsoft be forced to ship Java in every copy of Windows it sells, but ruled in favor of Sun on its copyright claim.

A federal appeals court gave both parties partial victory Thursday in the antitrust case Sun Microsystems Inc. filed against Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft won in that the court struck down Suns request that Microsoft be forced to ship Java in every copy of Windows it sells. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., vacated a lower court ruling in favor of Sun and remanded that portion back to the U.S. District Court in Baltimore. However, the appellate court ruled in favor of Sun on its copyright claim, and enforced an injunction stating that Microsoft must not distribute any Java other than software licensed to Microsoft as of a 2001 settlement between the companies.

"Because the district court was unable to find immediate irreparable harm and because it entered a preliminary injunction that does not aid or protect the courts ability to enter final relief on Suns PC-operating-systems monopolization claim, we vacate the mandatory preliminary injunction," the court wrote in its ruling.

"With respect to the preliminary injunction prohibiting Microsoft from distributing products that infringe Suns copyright interest, however, we conclude that the district court did not err in construing the scope of the license granted by Sun to Microsoft, nor did it abuse its discretion in entering the injunction," the court wrote. "Accordingly, we affirm that preliminary injunction."

"We are extremely pleased with the Appellate Courts ruling today affirming the copyright infringement injunction," said Lee Patch, vice president of legal affairs at Sun, in a statement. "This decision confirms that Microsoft violated our prior settlement agreement, and that it did so in a way that continued to fragment the Java platform on PCs. While we are disappointed with the delay that results from the Courts determination to vacate and remand the Must Carry preliminary injunction, the Court accepted the District Courts determination that Microsoft engaged in anticompetitive acts. We look forward to a speedy trial and our opportunity to more fully address these and significant additional violations when we present our complete antitrust case against Microsoft."

Also in a statement, Rich Green, vice president of developer platforms at Sun said: "This is an important victory for the Java community—it helps to ensure that only current, compatible Java technology will be distributed on PCs. In the years since it was introduced, Java technology has come to play a unique and vital role in computing. Java technology presents a remarkable opportunity for software developers on desktops, on devices and in server rooms—it has literally transformed the World Wide Web, running on everything, from smart cards to huge servers in complex data centers, and drawing them all together."

Jim Desler, a spokesman for Microsoft said of the courts opinion: "We are pleased with todays Court ruling. This is another step in a long legal process and we consider it to be a positive step. We are also pleased that todays ruling appears to affirm Judge [Cathleen Kolar-]Kotellys conclusions on this issue."

Desler added that Microsoft "will abide by the Courts ruling on copyright and have already stopped distributing the Microsoft JVM through internet download. This is part of a broader process of phasing out the Microsoft Java Virtual Machine as contemplated in the companies 2001 settlement agreement. Microsoft has demonstrated repeatedly this past year its commitment to move beyond our conflicts, to work collaboratively with the rest of the industry and to focus on the future."