Microsoft files counter-claim against Sun

Microsoft has filed a counter-claim to Sun Microsystems' private antitrust lawsuit, claiming that Sun broke a contract that...

Microsoft has filed a counter-claim to Sun Microsystems' private antitrust lawsuit, claiming that Sun broke a contract that allowed Microsoft to distribute its own version of Java.

The 51-page counterclaim, filed last week with Judge Frederick Motz, said that after a Sun lawsuit settled in January 2001 the two companies had an agreement for Microsoft to distribute its version of the Java Virtual Machine to 2008. Microsoft did not ask for a specific dollar amount in its counter-claim, suggesting instead that it be determined at trial.

Sun's lawsuit claimed Microsoft tried to kill developer interest in using Java by distributing its own version that is incompatible with the version controlled by Sun. Microsoft's goal, Sun lawyers claimed, was to confuse developers and drive them to use Microsoft's .net platform.

Microsoft claimed Sun's alleged breach of contract has stopped Microsoft from using its Java licence and "deprived Microsoft of the quiet enjoyment of technology it licensed" under the 2001 settlement agreement. The counter-claim accused Sun of "bad faith" dealings with Microsoft.

"For nearly a decade, Sun has instigated lawsuits against and governmental investigations of Microsoft based on alleged violations of antitrust and copyright laws in an effort to impede Microsoft's competition with Sun in the marketplace," Microsoft lawyer Matthew Larrabee wrote in the counterclaim.

"Sun has no product strategy to counter Microsoft's investment in creating innovative and useful software, and therefore attempts to obstruct Microsoft through litigation."

Sun vice president of legal affairs Lee Patch said the company reviewing the counterclaim. "We look forward to bringing evidence to prove the merit of all of our claims and answer Microsoft's counterclaims at trial."

Motz is presiding over a number of private antitrust lawsuits against Sun. In December, he ruled that Microsoft must distribute Sun's version of Java with Windows XP and by download, but Microsoft appealed against that order, and the US Court of Appeals delayed Motz's Java order on 3 February.

The appeals court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the "must-carry" Java order in April.

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