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01 Jan 2002 00:00
An attorney for Microsoft Corporation is arguing that the company shouldn’t be slapped with a court injunction because of the popularity of Windows.
Kevin Murphy, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, testified on Wednesday that Microsoft’s distribution advantage with Windows is not the key issue in the case brought by Sun Microsystems.
“Either in economics or in law, you don’t have a right to piggyback on somebody else just because they’re successful,” said Michael Lacovara, a Microsoft attorney who called Murphy to the stand.
Lacovara said he planned to continue pressing that point on Thursday, as a preliminary hearing called as part of Sun’s private antitrust lawsuit enters its third day.
On Wednesday, another University of Chicago economist, Dennis Carlton, testified that forcing Microsoft to include the latest version of Sun’s Java programming language in Windows would help restore competitive fairness between the two companies.
Carlton said Microsoft’s past anticompetitive conduct gives the company an illegitimate competitive advantage.
“The competition right now between Java and .NET is distorted,” Carlton said, referring to Microsoft’s rival language. Sun is seeking a temporary injunction against Microsoft, saying the software giant gained an unfair advantage by shipping its system—used by more than 90% of the world’s personal computers—with an outdated version of Java that’s inconsistent
for its users.
Software developers are therefore turning to .NET instead of gambling on Microsoft’s spotty distribution of Java, Sun attorneys told US District Court Judge Frederick Motz.
Microsoft counters that Sun doesn’t need the injunction because at least half the world’s software developers already use Java.
“There is tremendous momentum still behind Java,” Lacovara said, noting Java’s popularity on college campuses.
During Carlton’s testimony, Motz asked him if there could be a market where people use both Java and .NET on their computers.
“There can be a coexistence,” Carlton answered.
Carlton also said he didn’t think the injunction would hurt Microsoft’s ability to compete.
Java’s disadvantage stems from Microsoft’s broad distribution capabilities, which make its product
more attractive to customers, he said.
Sun accuses Microsoft of intentionally creating
incompatibilities with competitors’ products.
Microsoft attorney David Tulchin said Sun was trying to “engineer the marketplace” in seeking the injunction. The case is one of four private antitrust lawsuits that followed a federal judge’s ruling in a suit brought by the US Justice Department that Microsoft acted as an illegal monopoly based on its
dominance in desktop operating systems.
Last month, US District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly approved a settlement in that case that bars Microsoft from retaliating against or threatening computer manufacturers. The settlement also compels Microsoft to share key technical data with competitors that allow their programs to run more smoothly with Microsoft operating systems. - Sapa-AP
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