Sun, Microsoft settle Java suit

Sun Microsystems and Microsoft have settled their long-running lawsuit over Microsoft's use of Sun's Java software.

Under the settlement, Microsoft will pay Sun $20 million and is permanently prohibited from using "Java compatible" trademarks on its products, according to Sun. Sun also gets to terminate the licensing agreement it signed with Microsoft.

For its part, Microsoft is permitted to use a version of Java in Microsoft products that already contain it, or that already are in the testing phase, for the next seven years, according to the company.

Java is a software technology that allows a program to run on a multitude of computers without having to be rewritten for each one, effectivly loosening the grip of Microsoft over software compatability because programs were now platform independant after a single development.

Sun sued Microsoft for $35 million in 1997, saying Microsoft breached its contract by trying to extend Java so it would work differently, and presumably better, on Windows computers.

Consequently, one of Sun's main arguments in the case was that Microsoft wrongfully advertised that its products were Java- compatible because, in Sun's eyes, they were not. Those changes broke the universality of Java, Sun argued.

"It's pretty simple: This is a victory for our licensees and consumers," Sun CEO Scott McNealy said in a statement. "The community wants one Java technology: one brand, one process and one great platform. We've accomplished that, and this agreement further protects the authenticity and value of Sun's Java technology."

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