The Empire Strikes Back: Microsoft sues Sun

Microsoft fired back at Sun Microsystems Monday, charging breach of contract in a countersuit. Microsoft's suit against Sun involves a number of alleged contract violations, and Microsoft is suing for breach of good faith, fair dealing, and fair competition in addition to the break of contract.

Seeking unspecified monetary damages, Microsoft is asking the court to acknowledge its right to terminate Sun's license to Microsoft's Java technology. Under the current contract, Microsoft must return any work it does on Java to Sun.

"This should not have an impact on customers," said Cornelius Willis, a group marketing manager at Microsoft. "Our Java strategy has not changed since March 11, 1996. We are going to provide the best run-time for the Windows platform, provide the best Java tools for cross-platform and Windows development, and expose features of the Windows operating system directly to Java developers."

Microsoft made ten specific charges against Sun:

1. Sun failed to deliver upgrades of Java that were compatible with    previous versions.

2. Sun failed to deliver technology which complies with the agreement,    including supplemental classes which run on the Microsoft Reference    Implementation and upgrades which pass Sun's own test suites as required.

3. Sun failed to provide Microsoft with all upgrades and all betas.

4. Sun failed to promptly notify Microsoft of planned modifications of    Java.

5. Sun failed to license Microsoft's Java Reference Implementation to all    third parties on a non-discriminatory basis on terms no less favorable    than the terms upon which Sun licenses other implementations to third    parties.

6. Sun failed to deliver and use publicly available Java test suites.

7. Sun falsely stated that all of its Java licensees had substantially the    same terms when in fact they do not.

8. Sun falsely stated that Microsoft's software development tools are    "incompatible" and that developers should choose not to use them.

9. Sun falsely stated that Microsoft Internet Explorer is "incompatible"    and that it has failed to pass the tests that it is required to pass.

10. Sun took these actions willfully and deliberately with intent to cause     competitive injury."

Microsoft is also charging that Sun made "repeated false statements about Internet Explorer and \[Microsoft Java\] development tools."

To back up its claim, Microsoft points out two key sections of the Java contract: "\[Microsoft\] has the right to modify, adapt, and create derivative works of Sun's Java technology...\[Microsoft can\] determine if and how it will distribute the technology it licensed from Sun or any derivative works.

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