Court curbs Microsoft's Java distribution

A federal appeals court dealt a partial setback to Sun Microsystems on Thursday, tossing out most of a preliminary injunction requiring Microsoft to carry its rival's version of an interpreter for the Java programming language.

But the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., kept intact the portion of the district court's injunction that said Microsoft may not distribute products that "infringe Sun's copyright interests." On the broader "must-carry" injunction, the three-judge appeals panel said, "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."

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz ruled on Dec. 23 that Sun stood a good chance of winning its antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft and told both sides to craft a preliminary injunction, which he approved on Jan. 21. In his 11-page order, Motz gave Sun what it requested when filing the lawsuit: an injunction ordering Microsoft immediately to stop distributing incompatible versions of Sun's Java interpreter and to begin shipping authorized versions with Windows and Internet Explorer in four months.

Microsoft immediately appealed Motz's decision to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, calling it "extreme and unprecedented" and accusing Sun of violating a California law prohibiting unfair competition. On Feb. 4, a three-judge panel of the appeals court put Motz's injunction on hold until the panel could hear oral arguments--which took place on April 3--and reach its own decision.

News source: C|net

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