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Java suit rescheduling denied

A federal judge denies Sun's request to move up a hearing on its motion for a preliminary injunction in its case against Microsoft.

A federal judge has denied Sun Microsystems' request to move up a hearing on its motion for a preliminary injunction concerning Microsoft's Windows 98, a spokeswoman for Sun said.

The decision, issued by U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte of San Jose, California, means the hearing will occur July 31, as previously scheduled. Sun had asked Whyte to bump up the date, arguing that the motion was time-sensitive. Windows 98 is slated to hit retail shelves on June 25, giving the software giant an opportunity to get the product into the hands of millions of computer users before Whyte can issue a ruling.

Last month, Sun stepped up its legal battle with Microsoft over the Java-compatible logo by asking for a preliminary injunction that would require Microsoft to make Windows 98 compatible with Sun's implementation of the programming language. In a lawsuit filed last October, the workstation maker accused Microsoft of deliberately trying to "balkanize" Java, which could pose a threat to Windows dominance in the personal computer industry.

In March, Whyte preliminarily sided with Sun by ruling that Microsoft's implementation of Java did not appear to pass compatibility tests required by contract. He also ordered Microsoft to remove the Java-compatible logo from its products while the case was pending.

In addition, the judge sided with Sun on a number of other key points, including the company's contention that it is entitled to seek broad injunctive relief that goes beyond use of the trademark and monetary damages. Microsoft had argued that under the Java licensing agreement it signed that Sun had waived its right to injunctive relief.

Neither side appeared to attach much significance to Whyte's denial of Sun's request to expedite the hearing date. "This is strictly about how tight [the judge's] docket is," said Sun spokeswoman Lisa Poulson.

"We look forward to presenting our case in court and recognize that this is the appropriate decision," said Jim Cullinan, a spokesman for Microsoft.