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
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
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
“When there are logos like this and that actually means something,
that’s a good thing,” Smith said.