Can Microsoft Sue Open Office Users?

Microsoft this week said that is looking for ways to work more closely with developers of the Open Office open source project, while at the same time, apparently reserving the right to sue them, according to a legal agreement between Microsoft and Open Office's major sponsor, Sun Microsystems, made public this week. The agreement in question was signed in April of this year as part of Sun and Microsoft's landmark multibillion dollar settlement. It was released as part of Sun's annual U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings this week.

The April agreement says that Microsoft can seek damages from Open Office users or distributors for any copy of Open Office installed after April 1, 2004. However, users of Sun's commercial distribution of Open Office, called StarOffice, are protected from legal liabilities under the agreement, says Russ Castronovo, a spokesperson for Sun. Open Office includes a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software based on technology Sun acquired in its 1999 purchase of Germany's Star Division. Sun released the code under an open-source license in 2000.

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News source: PCWorld

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