Sun and Microsoft stage courtroom squabble

Summary:San Jose, Calif. -- Sun Microsystems Inc. testified in court that it had obtained evidence that Microsoft has knowingly shipped products containing the Java coffee cup logo even though they weren't Java compatible.

San Jose, Calif. -- Sun Microsystems Inc. testified in court that it had obtained evidence that Microsoft has knowingly shipped products containing the Java coffee cup logo even though they weren't Java compatible.

During a hearing on Sun's request to temporarily ban Microsoft (MSFT) from using the logo, Sun (SUNW) attorney Rusty Day cited internal Microsoft documents and e-mail showing the company knew its Internet Explorer 4.0 browser didn't pass Java compatibility tests two months before it shipped.

"They didn't ask. They didn't share the results. They just helped themselves to the trademark, put it on the box and shipped it off to the world," Day said.




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Microsoft said the products didn't have to pass new tests because Sun had supplied it with technology that was backwards compatible, and Microsoft chose not to include parts of it.



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"We have the right to make changes, we are not constrained," Microsoft lawyer David McDonald said.

In fact, Microsoft argued that it could continue to use the logo forever as long as its technology complied with older tests referred to in its contract with Sun.

When Federal Judge Ronald Whyte asked for the reasoning behind that argument, Microsoft said it has a right to the logo because it helped Java gain acceptance in the marketplace.

"Sun needed the endorsement of a major player like Microsoft," McDonald said.

Microsoft also argued that parts of its licensing agreement prohibits Sun from seeking a ban. But Sun attorneys argued it could lose control of the language and its promise of cross-platform compatibility if companies were allowed to ship noncompatible products containing the logo.

Whyte did not indicate when he would rule on the matter.

'They just helped themselves to the trademark, put it on the box and shipped it off to the world.'
-- Sun attorney Rusty Day

Today's hearing marks the first time the two sides have appeared in court since Sun filed the suit October 7, accusing Microsoft of breach of contract and trademark infringement.

Microsoft countersued Sun three weeks after the original suit was filed, saying it had the right to develop its own similar technology.

Microsoft tried unsuccessfully to delay today's hearing until June, but Judge Whyte rejected the request.

Meanwhile, analysts have said the legal tangle could have an adverse effect on Java, as some developers wait for an outcome before wholeheartedly embracing the technology. They also say Sun risks losing control of Java because a Microsoft win would set a precedent for altering technology labeled "Java-compatible."

Topics: Microsoft, Software

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