Sun receives a blow in Java dispute with Microsoft

Sun Microsystems this week was dealt another small loss in its legal battle with Microsoft over the Java programming language.

In a ruling issued late Monday, the US District Court judge who is overseeing a pair of lawsuits that the two companies filed against each other dismissed Sun's claim that Microsoft had infringed on Sun's Java-related copyrights. Judge Ronald Whyte also rejected Sun's motion for a summary judgment against Microsoft on the copyright issue.

This follows two other preliminary defeats that Whyte has handed down against Sun from his federal court bench in San Jose. It's part of a series of rulings on a total of 10 summary-judgment requests that the two companies have filed in the three-year-old case.

Last month, the judge rejected Sun's claim that it didn't have to deliver Java upgrades that were compatible with Microsoft's version of the programming language.

And in January, Whyte denied Sun's attempt to reinstate a preliminary injunction against Microsoft for copyright infringement. However, at the same time Whyte did allow Sun's motion for a preliminary injunction against Microsoft on the grounds of unfair competition.

In a statement issued earlier this week, Sun said the judge's latest ruling "is consistent with" his two January decisions and still leaves open its claims of trademark infringement, breach of contract and unfair competition against Microsoft.

A Sun spokeswoman declined to comment further pending Whyte's rulings on the remaining summary-judgment motions still in front of the judge. "That is really what we're waiting for," she said.

Microsoft officials didn't return phone calls and couldn't be reached for comment by presstime.

Sun filed sut against Microsoft three years ago, charging that the software vendor acted improperly by creating a nonstandard version of Java that was optimized for Windows-based systems. Microsoft denied the charges and filed a countersuit against Sun alleging breach of contract, unfair competition and other charges. A trial date hasn't been set yet.

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