Sun testimony won't change antitrust case

Following a Sun Microsystems executive's day of closed-door testimony Friday, a DoJ attorney said the results would have no impact on the government's antitrust case against Microsoft and dubbed the proceedings a "sideshow."

Microsoft subpoenaed Sun along with Netscape and America Online (AOL) in what it has called a fact-finding mission to prove that competition exists in the desktop operating system market.

On Friday, Microsoft attorney Richard Pepperman grilled Michael Popov - a Sun vice president and chief operating officer of staff operations - in a daylong deposition that Pepperman said focused on Sun's strategic alliance with AOL. That deal involves the joint development of new Web browser technologies and a Java environment that would connect users of non-PC devices to the Internet and AOL, he said.

Sun's lawyers ordered that the proceedings be closed to the public because Pepperman planned to focus on highly sensitive company documents.

Afterward, Justice Department attorney Philip Malone said Popov's deposition didn't change the government's stance against Microsoft.

"Really, I think today (Friday) just demonstrates what we've said all along, which is that the AOL/Netscape issue does not have any significant impact on the trial," Malone said. "It's just a sideshow -- an attempt to try to deflect attention away from the very damaging facts that have come out during the trial that have shown Microsoft's monopoly power and that it used that monopoly power."

A Sun official echoed that sentiment.

"I just think it's very, very interesting that with this huge burden of liability on monopoly hanging over their heads that Microsoft is choosing to look at what might be happening in the market two to three years from now as opposed to what's existing out there right now," said Sun spokeswoman Lisa Poulson.

Microsoft attorneys believe the depositions will show there is in fact competition in the marketplace, thus weakening the government's case.

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