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Ex-Sun boss punts Apple-Microsoft-world 'tried to sue me' missive

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Former Sun Microsystems boss Jonathan Schwartz has claimed that Apple chief Steve Jobs threatened to sue the server and software maker in 2003.

The erstwhile Sun CEO said on his 'What I Couldn't Say' blog yesterday that he felt for Google, whose HTC Android partner is currently embroiled in a legal handsets-at-dawn spat with Cupertino.

Apple has accused the Taiwanese mobile phone vendor of infringing 20 patents related to the iPhone.

"In 2003, after I unveiled a prototype Linux desktop called Project Looking Glass, Steve called my office to let me know the graphical effects were 'stepping all over Apple’s IP'. (IP = Intellectual Property = patents, trademarks and copyrights.) If we moved forward to commercialise it, 'I’ll just sue you,'" wrote Schwartz.

He rebutted Job's claims by noting that tech being used in Apple's Mac computers appeared to violate some of Sun's patents. "Steve was silent" after that, said Schwartz.

Returning to the current HTC/Google/Apple mud sling, the Sun veteran had this to say:

"Having watched this movie play out many times, suing a competitor typically makes them more relevant, not less. Developers I know aren't getting less interested in Google's Android platform, they're getting more interested - Apple's actions are enhancing that interest."

He also claimed on the same blog post that Microsoft had threatened to throw sueballs at Sun over its OpenOffice software.

MS co-founder and chairman Bill Gates warned Schwartz and his Sun predecessor Scott McNealy, recalls the pony-tailed, bespectacled one.

"Bill skipped the small talk, and went straight to the point, 'Microsoft owns the office productivity market, and our patents read all over OpenOffice,'" said Schwartz.

He said Gates offered Sun an Intellectual Property licence, which - according to Schwartz - was "code for 'We'll go away if you pay us a royalty for every download' - the digital version of a protection racket," he opined.

Schwartz, who became Sun CEO in 2006 and quit earlier this year when Oracle bought the firm for $7bn, said the meeting was "short" after he retorted to Gates that Microsoft's .NET technology was "trampling all over a huge number of Java patents". ®

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