Microsoft Goes On Offensive in Sun Antitrust Case

Microsoft late Friday accused Sun Microsystems of violating California law by engaging in unfair competition.

Microsoft is seeking attorney’s fees and damages for what it says is Sun’s violation of a settlement it struck concerning the Java programming language back in 2001.

Sun said it will respond to Microsoft’s latest legal move and is expected to make counterclaims when, and if the Sun-Microsoft antitrust case goes to trial. The actual date of a planned trial has yet to be set.

Currently, the 4th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia has put on hold a lower court ruling that orders Microsoft to distribute a new version of Java for Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

In Microsoft’s latest legal filing it aims to refute charges levied by Sun last year, and goes on to make several counterclaims. Microsoft claims Sun was in breach of a January 2001 settlement agreement, which it says violated the California business and professional code.

Microsoft makes the counterclaim that Sun broke a contract signed by both companies that it claims allowed Microsoft to distribute its own version of Java. Microsoft is asking the court to authorize it to build its own Java Virtual Machine in Windows XP, and to uphold an agreement that would allow it to do so through 2008.

The 4th Circuit court has said it will hear Microsoft’s appeal of the preliminary injunction for it to incorporate Java in Windows. At that time both Sun and Microsoft will have 20 minutes to present their side of the case.

Sun is expected to argue that Microsoft has failed to port its Office software suite to competing platforms, such as Java. By doing this, Sun contends Microsoft is extending its monopoly to its .NET platform and in the process essentially forcing customers to buy its Exchange Server, Internet Information Server and SQL Server products.