Microsoft Granted Java Reprieve

A federal appeals court on Thursday overturned a preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz, which ordered Microsoft to ship Sun Microsystem's Java technology with Windows.

"We conclude that the district court's findings are insufficient to support its conclusion that immediate irreparable harm will be sustained if the mandatory preliminary injunction is not entered, and accordingly, that injunction must be vacated," the court wrote.

Microsoft spokesperson Jim Desler said of the decision: "We are pleased with today's Court ruling. This is another step in a long legal process and we consider it to be a positive step."

Redmond was initially granted a stay of the decision last February after announcing plans to include Java in future service packs for Windows XP. However, the three-judge panel upheld a ruling that Microsoft violated a 2001 license agreement between the companies and infringed on Sun's Java copyrights.

"We are extremely pleased with the Appellate Court's ruling today affirming the copyright infringement injunction," said Lee Patch, Sun's vice president of legal affairs in a statement. "This decision confirms that Microsoft violated our prior settlement agreement, and that it did so in a way that continued to fragment the Java platform on PCs."

The case will now return to the lower court for further proceedings under Motz unless Sun and Microsoft reach a settlement.

Sun filed its $1 billion lawsuit against Microsoft in March 2002, asserting that Redmond used its Windows monopoly to promote .NET over Java. Citing concerns over past litigation, Microsoft dropped Java from Windows XP and made available from Windows Update an outdated Java release.

Microsoft has since ceased offering its Java Virtual Machine, although security updates have been issued for previous revisions.

Sun has recently switched its focus from Windows to OEMs, signing deals with Hewlett-Packard and Dell to ship the latest version of Sun's Java with new PCs.

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