A US appeals court has blasted an injunction that would force Microsoft to put Java into its Windows operating system.
In December last year US District Judge J Frederick Motz ordered Microsoft to put Sun Microsystems' Java programming language into Windows.
Judge Motz claimed that, without the order, Microsoft's dominance with Windows, which runs on approximately 95 per cent of PCs worldwide, would give it an unfair competitive advantage in the burgeoning web services market.
Microsoft appealed against the decision and at the hearing yesterday in Richmond, Virginia, US Circuit Judge Paul Niemeyer criticised the basis for the original injunction.
According to reports, Niemeyer argued that Sun had not presented enough evidence to prove that the web services market would go in Microsoft's favour unless Java was put into Windows.
He dismissed Sun's suggestion that Microsoft's efforts to suppress Java were similar to ice skater Tonya Harding's attack on the kneecaps of rival Nancy Kerrigan prior to the 1994 Olympics.
"Except you allege injury in her elbow," said Judge Niemeyer. "The preliminary injunction to protect her knee won't help her elbow. To say Sun is standing on the sidelines hobbled in this market is an overstatement."
The judge added that the initial injunction had not taken into account the effect on the PC market.
"Do you concede that the court has not identified the effect on the PC market?" he asked a Sun lawyer.
"Why has [the lower court] entered a preliminary injunction if it sees no threat to the competition in the PC market? I don't think the district court had a clue [about the distinction between the PC and web services markets]."
The initial injunction was lifted in February while the courts considered Microsoft's appeal.
Sun claims that Microsoft polluted a version of Java and dropped it from Windows XP. It is seeking $1bn in damages.
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