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Sun Tosses Open-Source Challenge Back To IBM

Sun Microsystems CEO and chairman Scott McNealy tried to stamp out a smoldering challenge from IBM that it convert the Java platform into an open-source code project by saying IBM had yet to match Sun's intellectual-property contributions.

It was almost as if making peace with one former nemesis, archenemy Microsoft, brought another one back. Sun and Microsoft agreed in April to settle Java licensing and patent disputes with a payment to Sun of $2 billion. The two also forged a 10-year technology agreement to ensure that Java and Microsoft.Net technologies work better together.

In February word leaked out that IBM VP of emerging technology Rod Smith had written to Rob Gingell, a Sun VP and head of the Java Community Process, urging Sun to make Java open source. IBM participates in the Java Community Process, which adds technologies and interfaces to the existing Java language. During Tuesday's a keynote address to several thousand Java developers, Sun tossed the challenge back to IBM.

"Stop writing letters to the No. 1 donor to open source communities," scolded McNealy. "We want IBM to start donating its own IP (intellectual property)," he added, noting the large number of patents the company holds.

In a question and answer session immediately afterward, he charged IBM with suffering from "Java envy."

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