Sun Gives Judge's MS Ruling a Big Hand

STOCKHOLM (04/04/2000) - As might be expected, Sun Microsystems Inc. yesterday applauded a court verdict that the company's arch-rival Microsoft Corp. had violated U.S. antitrust law, and offered advice on remedies.

U.S. Federal District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's decision confirmed that Microsoft is a monopoly and has acted illegally, and it is now time to figure out how to prevent Microsoft from continuing to abuse its position to "stifle innovation and harm consumers," Scott McNealy, Sun's chief executive officer, said in a statement.

In his conclusions of law, the legal term for the verdict, Judge Jackson earlier yesterday stated that Microsoft had used anticompetitive means and tried to monopolize the market for Web browser software. [See "UPDATE3: Judge Rules Microsoft Broke the Law," April 3.]According to Sun, a combination of structural and behavioral remedies will be needed to ensure that Microsoft in future will not be able to again misuse its alleged monopoly power.

The only sure way to curtail Microsoft's monopoly position in the PC operating systems software market is to force its applications and Internet content businesses to be divested as separate companies, and divide the remaining operating systems business into three competing companies, the statement said.

Microsoft must also be prohibited from using its financial strength to kill competition through minority, majority and intellectual property technology investments, or to buy its way into new markets and lock in new customers, Sun said.

To level the technology standards playing field, Microsoft must be forced to openly and freely publish its programming interfaces and also be required to make its pricing public and nondiscriminatory, as well as be prohibited from signing exclusive or preclusive agreements with its customers, according to the Sun statement.

Sun last year entered into a strategic alliance with America Online Inc.'s Netscape Communications Corp. unit, the company behind the Navigator browser software which Microsoft allegedly used its monopoly power to unseat from its former position as the world's favored Web browser.

The U.S. Department of Justice has posted Judge Jackson's conclusions of law on its Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/atr.

Sun Microsystems, in Palo Alto, California, can be reached at +1-650-960-1300, or via the Web at http://www.sun.com/. Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, is at +1-425-882-8080, or at http://www.microsoft.com/.

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