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DoJ Java questions delay Oracle's Sun buffet

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Updated Concerns over Java could end up delaying a fast-track acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) is reported to have asked the companies for more information about the licensing of Java, before giving its seal of approval to the deal.

Sun and Oracle had hoped for approval by June 26, so that the matter could then be passed to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for their approval.

Additional scrutiny could add another two months to the process. Sun has already scheduled a meeting of its shareholders for July 16 to vote on the proposed deal.

Oracle counsel Dan Wall, of Latham and Watkins, minimized the potential impact of the delay on the deal. Wall said Oracle had "a very good dialogue" with the DoJ and called this "one narrow issue" about the way rights to Java are licensed "that is never going to get in the way of the deal."

"I fully expect that the investigation will end soon and not delay the closing of the deal this summer," he said. A DoJ spokesperson confirmed it is looking into the proposed transaction but would not comment on specifics.

Oracle's ownership of Sun would allow a single company to control the terms and conditions - and set the price - for the licensing of Java in middleware and mobile devices. While Sun also had this power, it was considered a relatively benign authority while its own Java middleware and Java tools and applications offered no serious competition.

Oracle has a history of fierce competition against many of the companies that it will be licensing Java to and it's been known to jack up the prices of licenses of acquired companies' products. ®

Article has been updated to include comment from Oracle.

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