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Microsoft appeals Java ruling (1999)

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San Francisco (January 14, 1999) -- Microsoft Corp. has appealed a U.S. district court's preliminary injunction requiring it to make changes to its products that use Java, arguing that the court made several errors in issuing the order.

The preliminary injunction was awarded in November by Judge Ronald Whyte of the U.S. District Court in San Jose, California, who is presiding over a lawsuit filed against Microsoft by Sun Microsystems Inc.

Sun's lawsuit, filed in October 1997, accuses Microsoft of trying to undermine Sun's Java programming language by releasing "polluted" versions of the technology in Internet Explorer, Windows 98 and other Microsoft products. Microsoft denies the charges.

Following court hearings in September last year, Whyte ruled that Sun was likely to win its lawsuit based on the merits of the case, and ordered Microsoft to change the Java technology in its products so that they pass Sun's Java compatibility tests. (See "Sun gets injunction against Microsoft," in Resources below.)

"Microsoft believes that the district court made several errors that should be reversed by the court of appeals," Tom Burt, associate general counsel at Microsoft, said in a statement.

Microsoft contends that the district court misinterpreted the terms of its licensing contract with Sun, and that it mistakenly treated the issue as a copyright issue rather than a contract dispute. More specifically,

Microsoft says the court was wrong in determining that the contract requires Microsoft to use Sun's Java Native Interface technology in its products.

Microsoft's appeal was filed late yesterday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. Sun has 28 days to file a reply, Sun spokeswoman Lisa Poulson said.

Sun's lawyers are reviewing Microsoft's appeal now, Poulson said.

"Clearly we believe that Judge Whyte properly addressed the issues in granting the injunction," Sun said in a brief prepared statement issued today.

Microsoft originally was given 90 days by the court to make the changes to its products. In December it filed motions with the district court asking for more time. (See "Microsoft seeks extension in Java ruling," in Resources below.)

Judge Whyte is scheduled to hold a hearing tomorrow morning where he will hear arguments over that motion for extra time, and may make a ruling on the motion from the bench, Poulson said. The hearing will likely be closed to the public, she added.

The appeals brief filed by Microsoft can be found on the company's Web site at Sun's filings in the case are on the Web at