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Judge's Java findings may trigger Sun suit against MS

But maybe Sun's just making more mischief

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MS on Trial Sun has started briefing the press on the possibility of it mounting a private antitrust suit against Microsoft. That of course doesn't mean that Sun will mount such a suit - it may well be that the company will be happy enough with the mischief the suggestions will cause for Microsoft. And of course by bringing private antitrust suits further up the news agenda, Sun is likely to encourage more aggrieved parties and sundry ambulance-chasers to go after Redmond. But as Sun puts it, the company is "obligated" to look at suing. In his Conclusions of Law published this week, it was to be expected that Judge Jackson would come down heavily against Microsoft on the subject of Netscape, but he also covered Java in some detail, and this is where Sun's 'obligation' comes in. By concluding that Microsoft deliberately set out to wreck Java, and even hurt itself in order to achieve this goal, Jackson could be said to have handed Sun a loaded pistol. The judge has ruled that Microsoft hurt Java, and therefore cost Sun money, so Sun's shareholders could reasonably expect the company's officers to look at the likelihood of extracting compensation. Sun does however have a long record of trying to pull the antitrust strings against Microsoft without (excepting the Java action) actually putting itself into the front line, and this goes back to well before the current action. More recently the company has 'helpfully' suggested Microsoft should be split into three companies (with the OS itself also sent three ways), forced to publish its APIs and have its pricing and contracts rigorously controlled. Sun boss Scott McNealy has also frequently recommended that Microsoft be prevented from spending its large cash pile on buying its way into new markets. Aside from this pot-stirring, Sun has its own Java copyright infringement suit running against Microsoft, and is one of the companies that triggered the separate European probe into the company's activities. So maybe it's busy enough without an antitrust action too. ® Complete Register Trial coverage

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