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Sun, Microsoft make Java license public (1997)

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Boston (October 15, 1997) -- Microsoft Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. today posted their disputed Java licensing agreement on their respective Web sites (see sidebar below), where the technology giants also traded barbs in the latest round of their ongoing dispute.

Sun yesterday also filed an amended complaint to its lawsuit against Microsoft. Sun is seeking $35 million in damages for Microsoft's alleged illegal distribution of the Sun source code in the beta version of the Microsoft Software Development Kit for Java. The damage amount was specified in the licensing agreement in the event that Sun alleged a violation.

Sun contends that Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser and the development kit are not fully Java-compatible, which violates the licensing agreement signed in March 1996.

The original lawsuit was filed last week and alleges trademark infringement, false advertising, breach of contract, unfair competition, interference with prospective economic advantage and inducing breach of contract.

Microsoft's Web site suggests that Sun sought to keep the Java licensing agreement secret, while Microsoft wanted it to be made public.

"That's an absolute lie," said John Loiacono, director of marketing strategy and branding at Sun. Both companies agreed to keep the agreement confidential, so Sun filed it in court as a sealed document, he said. Since the lawsuit was filed, both companies agreed to make it public and specified today as the date for doing so, he said.

Microsoft did not return a phone call seeking comment, but the Microsoft Web site says the company asked Sun to unseal the document. Sun, according to the Microsoft Web site, "selectively revealed and paraphrased parts of the agreement" in its lawsuit.

"Given that Sun has been attempting to argue the case in the court of public opinion, it was important to make sure that the entire contract was revealed, not just the individual sections that Sun has already disclosed," the Microsoft Web site says under a question-and-answer section regarding the licensing agreement.

The Sun Web site suggests that Netscape Navigator, a browser that has more marketshare than Internet Explorer 4.0, is "the best choice for end users who want to be sure they can always run Java."

The text of the amended complaint, the licensing agreement and other information about the ongoing dispute with Microsoft may be obtained on Sun's Web site at Microsoft's statements regarding the dispute and a copy of the licensing agreement are also available on its Web site at