Sun Stands Firm

Part 2: Jim Mitchell at Sun's Press Teleconference

PALO ALTO, Calif -- September 22, 1997 -- In Part 2 of the press teleconference today, Sun Microsystems' Jim Mitchell, Vice President of Technology and Architecture, continues with the rest of Sun's statement about Java and standardization.

Jim Mitchell:

Thanks Alan. Good morning everyone. Let me first just re-establish where we are in this process. As many of you know, Sun applied to become what is known as a "PAS" submitter, or a submitter of Publicly Available Specifications. The approximately 30 member countries of ISO's Joint Technical Committee (JTC-1) reviewed and commented on Sun's application. Their comments and initial votes were delivered on July 24, after which Sun had 60 days to respond to the questions. We're submitting those responses by close of business today, and the national member bodies of JTC-1 will each register a final vote within 45 days on our application. The responses will be available on our web site at, just click on Java standardization.

Sun is confident that we have satisfied all of the concerns raised by the national standards bodies around the world while satisfying the written policies of JTC-1. We look forward to a positive outcome and to cooperating with JTC-1 and its national bodies very closely in standardizing the Java specifications.

OK, to get down to the meat of it, the three major issues were basically these:

  1. What will Sun submit to JTC-1 for standardization?


  2. How will the Java specifications be maintained as international standards?


  3. Will Sun grant the intellectual property rights needed for international standards?
Here are our responses:

First, Sun's intention is to submit the specification for the Java platform, because that is what is needed to have a standard that can support "Write Once Run Anywhere" and the other Java properties. That should be simple.

Second, regarding maintenance: Sun agrees that JTC-1 processes must control any international standard that results from our PAS submission. We also believe that maintenance activities related to the International Standard must include the international Java community. Since current JTC 1 procedures do not allow the level of participation in a typical Working Group that our open specification process does, we propose a solution that should satisfy all interested parties: Sun will carry out maintenance of the International Standard on behalf of the Java community using our established open process AND we will also participate in JTC-1 internal maintenance processes.

Third, regarding Java intellectual property: We have reaffirmed our commitment to ISO intellectual property rights policies, and we will allow the international standard for the Java platform to be called "The Specification for the Java Platform" to make this clear. ISO and its bodies will be free to print and sell copies of the standard without paying any royalties. The patents we hold that are necessary to implement the Java platform specification we already grant freely to anyone who builds an implementation that conforms to the specifications -- just go look at the license in the frontispiece of all our specifications published in the Addision-Wesley series.

Now, regarding the Java trademarks used for our products: Sun cannot and will not surrender its trademarks for the Java platform to ISO or anyone else. Java is a brand-named product which has its own value and integrity that Sun must maintain for our users and source-code licensees. It is part of our contractual obligation to our licensees to maintain strict compliance with the Java trademark policies our contracts define.

And let me clarify something here a little. Sun isn't seeking to give its PRODUCTS to ISO. We want to standardize the SPECIFICATIONS that underlie those products, to protect the investment that virtually the entire industry has made in Java and "Write Once, Run Anywhere."

Microsoft is calling for Sun to give up its Java trademark because it wants to kill what it cannot control. We'll consider putting the Java trademarks in the public domain when Microsoft relinquishes control over the Windows specification name and trademark. Let's first see Microsoft demonstrate an act of good faith by opening up the specifications and APIs to Windows as we have done with Java. Let's see Microsoft commit to "100% Pure Java" applications that will run everywhere, as the rest of the industry has.

In the next 45 days we will be meeting with as many members of ISO national bodies as humanly possible to explain our responses to their concerns. We will be following up on our work at the recent ISO plenary meeting in Ottawa to make sure that everyone understands our positions clearly. We found that clearly presented facts go over much better than disinformation and distortion spread by Microsoft.

We feel confident about the ISO process as an independent review board for the specifications we develop. Our process for developing those specifications will not change, and we are very proud of how successful it's been. Let me just remind you how we do things here.

First-- Our Java development process is unique in the industry, based on principles of speed, openness, web-wide participation, technical excellence.

Second-- We begin by convening a small group of industry experts to write the first draft of a spec. Then our 110+ licensees review and comment on the specifications. And finally we release them to the entire Java community on the Internet who also comment on those specifications.

And-- No other organization encourages and pays attention to input from the whole universe of developers -- there is no cost, no barriers to entry, to participate in the evolution of Java. Anyone with Internet access has a voice -- and we listen. Fundamental architectural changes have resulted from suggestions from the public over the Web.

We take this stewardship role extremely seriously, and are absolutely committed to continuing to develop the Java platform in this open way.