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With its legal battle with Microsoft Corp. out of the way, Sun Microsystems Inc. has quietly appointed a new general counsel. In a document filed Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Michael Dillon is listed as the company’s general counsel and secretary. It’s unclear when John Croll, Sun’s former general counsel, stepped down from the post. A company representative declined to comment, citing a pre-earnings release quiet period. In an interview with The Recorder last week, a Sun spokeswoman said that Croll had retired several months ago. Croll became Sun GC in April 2002. During his tenure, he reorganized the company’s legal department amid the belt-tightening post-dot-com era and spearheaded Sun’s court battle against Microsoft. His departure comes after a relatively short stint heading Sun’s legal department. “A rule of thumb is that in a position like this you usually see people stick around for four years, and that’s because their options vest over four years,” said Celeste Greene, a corporate partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Croll could not be reached for comment. The news comes amid a spate of changes at Sun. On April 2, Sun announced that it was cutting 3,300 jobs, and that Jonathan Schwartz was succeeding founder Scott McNealy as president. McNealy will continue as chairman and chief executive officer. The company also announced that it had settled its long-running antitrust litigation with Microsoft. Under the terms of the deal, Microsoft will pay Sun $2 billion, and the two tech giants will collaborate on various projects. With Sun shifting its legal focus away from the Microsoft battle, Weil, Gotshal & Manges partner Vernon Winters theorized that the company may have decided it wanted a fresh mindset. “Once that challenge has been resolved, it may be appropriate for the company to get from its top legal officer the benefit of a different perspective,” Winters said. As GC, Dillon will lead one of the corporate world’s largest in-house legal departments. With approximately 150 attorneys, Sun’s legal force is the third largest in Silicon Valley, trailing Hewlett-Packard Co. and Intel Corp. A Santa Clara University School of Law graduate, Dillon had worked in Sun’s legal department in the past, but left the company in 1999 for an in-house job at ONI Systems Corp. He returned to Sun in 2002 at Croll’s behest. Croll tapped Dillon to head up a newly formed products law group responsible for licensing technology from inventors. According to the SEC filing, Dillon was granted 109,000 stock options on April 1.

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