Microsoft sued (again)

Sun Microsystems has filed a private antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft seeking remedies for the harm inflicted by Microsoft’s anti-competitive behaviour with respect to the Java platform.

Sun Microsystems has filed a private antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. The suit, filed in the United States District Court in San Jose, seeks remedies for the harm inflicted by Microsoft’s anti-competitive behaviour with respect to the Java platform and for damages resulting from Microsoft’s illegal efforts to maintain and expand its monopoly power.

In June 2001, the Federal Court of Appeals found Microsoft guilty of illegally abusing its monopoly power with respect to Sun and the Java platform. Sun’s suit seeks redress for the competitive and economic harm caused by Microsoft’s illegal acts.

‘After careful consideration, Sun filed this suit in order to uphold its fiduciary responsibilities to its shareholders and employees,’ said Michael Morris, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Sun Microsystems.

‘This private antitrust lawsuit is intended to restore competition in the marketplace by removing unlawful barriers to the distribution of the Java platform and to interoperability between Microsoft software and competitive technologies. The achievement of these goals will allow for greater innovation and increased customer choice.’

In its complaint, Sun alleges that Microsoft has engaged in extensive anti-competitive conduct, including fragmenting the Java platform, flooding the market with incompatible Java Runtime Environments, forcing other companies to distribute or use products that are incompatible with Java, and significantly limiting Sun’s distribution channels for the Java Runtime Environment.

Sun also alleges that Microsoft has intentionally created incompatibilities between Microsoft software and competing technologies, thereby raising switching costs for consumers and reducing consumer choice.

Sun’s filing points out that, in recent antitrust proceedings brought by the United States, 19 individual states and the District of Columbia, ‘Microsoft was held to have illegally maintained its monopoly over the market for Intel-compatible personal computer operating systems by engaging in anticompetitive acts that impeded the distribution and/or use of alternative platforms that threatened Microsoft’s monopoly, including Sun’s Java platform.’

‘While this suit is based on the past actions of Microsoft, Sun also believes that Microsoft’s continuing practices in the marketplace represent a threat to lawful competition and the millions of developers who depend on the existence of an open software industry. This behaviour manifests Microsoft’s goal to use its monopoly position to turn the Internet into its proprietary platform. What is at stake here is the future of an open software industry and an open Internet,’ continued Morris.

In its suit, Sun is seeking preliminary injunctions requiring Microsoft to distribute Sun’s current binary implementation of the Java plug-in as part of Windows XP and Internet Explorer and stop the distribution of Microsoft’s Java Virtual Machine through separate downloads.

Sun also is seeking a permanent injunction requiring Microsoft to disclose and license proprietary interfaces, protocols, and formats and to unbundle tied products, such as Internet Explorer, IIS web server, and the .Net framework.

In addition to this, Sun’s suit seeks treble damages as provided by law.