Final score: Sun:1 Microsoft: 0

Microsoft Corporation has agreed to pay Sun $20 million to settle Sun’s lawsuit regarding Microsoft’s use of Sun’s Java technology.

Microsoft Corporation has agreed to settle Sun’s lawsuit regarding Microsoft’s use of Sun’s Java technology. As part of the agreement, Microsoft has agreed to pay Sun $20 million, to accept Sun’s termination of a prior license agreement, and to a permanent injunction against unauthorised use of Sun’s Java compatible trademark.

According to Sun, to protect those developers using Microsoft’s outdated implementation of Sun’s technology, Sun has licensed Microsoft to distribute its existing versions, provided that all future versions of such products conform to, and pass, Sun’s compatibility tests.

A statement from Sun said that Microsoft realised it needed to offer the Java technology to its developers and customers. But the technology also threatened Microsoft’s monopoly hold on the desktop operating system market, because the technology can be used to develop applications and products that are not dependent on the Windows operating system.

Microsoft’s response to this issue was to license the technology from Sun in 1996, promising to deliver only compatible implementations of the technology. But, Sun says, Microsoft broke its promise, and began distributing incompatible implementations so that applications written to those implementations would run only on Windows.

Sun repeatedly asked Microsoft to stop shipping incompatible implementations of the Java technology. Microsoft refused. As a result, Sun terminated the Technology Licensing and Distribution Agreement.

With the contract terminated, Sun and Microsoft have now agreed to end the current litigation, initiated in October, 1997 before Judge Ronald M. Whyte in a US District Court in San Jose, California.

Under the agreement, the Court will enter a permanent injunction barring Microsoft from using the Java Compatible trademark. Previously, the Court found that Microsoft had distributed incompatible implementations of the Java technology, and the court entered a preliminary injunction barring Microsoft from using the Java compatible trademark on these incompatible products. To protect developers and consumers who have already invested in Microsoft’s implementations of the Java technology, Sun has agreed to grant Microsoft a limited license to continue shipping implementations of the outdated 1.1.4 version of the Java technology. Those products have already been modified to comply with injunctions secured by Sun in the litigation. The license covers only the products that already contain the Java technology, and lasts only for seven years.

Beyond that, Microsoft has no rights to distribute the Java technology, or to otherwise use any of Sun’s intellectual property.

Sun will continue to make freely available the latest, most highly optimised version of the Java technology (JDK 1.3) for WIndows. And, Sun has said that it would be open to exploring the possibility of having Microsoft distribute compliant versions of the latest, most robust Java technology.