RealTime IT News

Judge Orders Microsoft to Remove "Java Compatible" Logo

Just in time for an evening of parties at JavaOne Tuesday, Sun Microsystems Inc. announced it had convinced a judge to order Microsoft Corp. to remove the "Java Compatible" logo from its products, including Internet Explorer and Visual J++.

In granting a preliminary injunction, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald M. White ruled that Sun was likely to prevail in its trademark claims. "Sun has established sufficient likelihood of establishing consumer confusion," the judge ruled.

Sun claims that Microsoft violated its license to the technology by improperly modifying Java in ways that would destroy its viability as a cross-platform technology.

Microsoft's position had been that it was entitled to use the logo because it had paid to license Java from Sun and was delivering what many considered to be the best implementation. It pointed out that Netscape had made similar modifications to the virtual machine in its browser, a fact that later compelled Netscape to voluntarily drop the logo and eventually announce that it was getting out of the business of making Java virtual machines.

But Tuesday Microsoft released a statement that it would comply with the judge's order. "We remain confident that once all the facts are presented in the larger case, the court will find Microsoft to be in full compliance with its contract with Sun," said Tom Burt, associate general counsel for Microsoft.

The ruling means Microsoft must remove the Java Compatible logo from its Web site and marketing and that it must either recall products with bearing the logo or at least place a sticker over the logo on the boxes for those products.

"There are many issues that we've put into this case, but this is the one we asked for early analysis of and action on," Sun CEO Scott McNealy said. He said he doesn't expect a complete resolution to the case for at least a year.

Sun's goal is not to force Microsoft to stop producing a Java virtual machine, McNealy said. "What we've asked them to do is get compatible. We still want them to be a channel for Java, and we're still working through the court system to get them to be compelled to comply with their contract."

Gartner Group analyst David Smith said he thought this early victory was important for Java. "It starts to remove some of the confusion from the market. When there's confusion, people tend to hang back and not take action. This may allow some of them to start making decisions one way or another.

"When there are logos like this and that actually means something, that's a good thing," Smith said.