Microsoft files 11th-hour brief in Sun lawsuit

Lawyers for Microsoft have filed a last-minute court brief in a lawsuit filed by Sun Microsystems over Microsoft's use of Java, arguing the case should be considered as a breach of contract dispute rather than one of copyright infringement.

Lawyers for Microsoft Chave filed a last-minute court brief in a lawsuit filed by Sun Microsystems over Microsoft's use of Sun's Java programming language.

The brief, filed yesterday, came as a federal judge is weighing a decision in the lawsuit, filed in 1997, in which Sun alleges Microsoft violated copyright and contract laws by selling a "polluted" version of Java that was incompatible with other platforms.

US District Judge Ronald Whyte issued a temporary injunction in November 1998 preventing Microsoft from using a version of Java in its software that was not compatible with Sun's version. However, an appeals court sent the injunction back to Whyte, saying the ruling needed further explanation.

Whyte is reconsidering the injunction, and is also expected to issue a final ruling in the case soon.

In its latest brief, Microsoft argued that claims of copyright infringement have not been substantiated by Sun. Rather, the case should be considered as a breach of contract dispute, the brief argued. Damages awarded in contract violations are more limited than for breaches of copyright law, said Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan.

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