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Google Oracle The Courts

The Case For Oracle 341

An anonymous reader writes "In a lucid writeup, InfoWorld's Neil McAllister takes a different angle on the Oracle-Google lawsuit, giving an explanation why Oracle was right to sue Google. McAllister argues that Google is splintering the Java platform, just like Microsoft was doing back in the 90s, and should be held up to the same standards. He further cites Google's Josh Bloch calling for Oracle to take a lead role in steering Java, concluding that Bloch maybe 'should have been more careful what he wished for.'"
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The Case For Oracle

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  • by ciaran_o_riordan ( 662132 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @12:15PM (#33332254) Homepage

    Problem is, if they can do it to Google, they can do it to any distributor of a free software JVM.

    To be safe, you have to either follow the Java Language Specification exactly (no subsets or supersets), or build your software on the OpenJDK software that Oracle distributes under GPLv2. Here's what info swpat.org has gathered so far about this case and its implications:

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @12:47PM (#33332440)

    and doesn't pretend to be. Using a language inspired by Java and a library along the lines of Java's library should be legally OK, right?

  • by Hooya ( 518216 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @12:57PM (#33332512) Homepage

    > another VM

    It *IS* another VM. They just used Java the *language*, it's associated tools (Eclipse) in order to capitalize on the the developer marketshare. The resulting compiled code is targeted to this other VM (the dalvic VM). To steer clear of Java, they would have to stop using Java - the language.

    (I would be all for it. I *Hate* Java. The tools make it bearable.)

    However, using another language will present all kinds of issues - which language do they use?

    Python might be a close candidate as they already have an interpreter that runs under the Dalvik VM - although I don't think it's installed by default and the API coverage might not be a 100%. Also, running an instance of the interpretor for every app might suck some major ass - which is why they used Dalvik as opposed to the VMs that come as part of the Java platform. If, as the alternative, they ran one VM, the seperation between the apps aren't there which can cause all sorts of other issues.

  • by epiphani ( 254981 ) <epiphani@d[ ]net ['al.' in gap]> on Sunday August 22, 2010 @01:00PM (#33332530)

    Reposting as necessary:

    Java (the language) is free and open. Java (the trademark) is not. Provided google is not doing business advertising "Android - with Java(tm)!", they're doing nothing wrong. Oracle owns ONLY the trademark.

  • by Haxamanish ( 1564673 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @01:41PM (#33332852)
    From wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

    Specifically the patent infringement claim references 7 patents including US Patent No. 5966702 [uspto.gov] "Method And Apparatus For Preprocessing And Packaging Class Files", and US Patent No. 6910205 [uspto.gov] "Interpreting Functions Utilizing A Hybrid Of Virtual And Native Machine Instructions".[15] It also references US Patent No. RE38104 [uspto.gov] "Method And Apparatus For Resolving Data References In Generated Code" authored by James Gosling [...]

    As I understand it (disclaimer: I'm a philosopher in Belgium), not using Java on Android would not solve the problem, since Oracle is attacking the Dalvik VM. So, even if it were running JavaScript, Python, Go or C#, Dalvik would according to Oracle violate the Java VM Patents.

    Solutions would thus be:
    - Prove those patents are not applicable to Dalvik
    - Find prior art to invalidate the patents (any lawyer-hacker who is familiar with, say, the inner workings of UCSD Pascal?)
    - Reform the US patent system, the most drastic reform would be the abolishment of all "intellectual property"
    - Move out of the US
    - Pay Oracle or make another deal with them like swapping some patents and/or technologies

  • by LingNoi ( 1066278 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:18PM (#33333178)

    It's not targeted at systems level programming it's the beginnings of a completely new type of language. The fact that it's used mostly for console based stuff is simply because there aren't enough libraries re-written in the language.

    http://golang.org/doc/go_faq.html#What_is_the_purpose_of_the_project [golang.org]

  • by oiron ( 697563 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:27PM (#33333256) Homepage

    Actually, from what I've heard, this is pretty standard in patent infringement cases. They may not be shooting for it, but they'll use it as a bargaining position.

  • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:29PM (#33333276)

    You would have done better to keep reading. The WHOLE POINT of the case is that the open source lice grants access to the patents on the Java IF and ONLY IF you fully implement java and USE THE JVM. since Dalvik does not use the Java byte code it clearly violates the open source lic terms and thus is open to a patent suit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @04:01PM (#33333996)

    LOL ... try and use all .net (or silverlight) code in mono, see how far you get, this is the exact situation oracle is trying to stop, splintering and incompatibility of the language. microsoft tolerates mono that is all.

  • by Rob Y. ( 110975 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @04:54PM (#33334432)

    I think when Microsoft implemented J++, Java wasn't free software, and MS was in violation of a licensing agreement they had made with Sun to use Sun's code. Whether that makes a difference legally in this case, I can't say. But the situation seems different to me.

  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @05:05PM (#33334514)
    The problem with Android is that it does implement a load of the java.* namespace, but it is not a complete implementation. This means that code written using portable Java will not always work on Android. I don't think they add anything in the java.* namespace, so you can port apps from android unless they use the android.* stuff.

    That isn't the problem at all. Android / Dalvik has never claimed to be an implementation of Java so its irrelevant how much or how little of the standard namespace it has implemented. It could have implemented all 100% and Oracle would still be pissed.

    The reason why they're pissed is because Google chose to deliberately make a Java-like environment, one which benefited from the Java programming language but wasn't actually Java and never claimed to be. Therefore it was not subject to Oracle's licensing terms or directional interference. Since Google never claimed it was Java (as did Microsoft when they produced a bastardized version), Oracle cannot sue for licence or trademark infringement.

    All they can do as they have done is rummage around for some patents that were violated in the process. The patents look pretty weak, and some of them don't even cover Android OS, just the SDK. I think what is likely to happen is that Google will vigourously defend the suit and issue a counter suit, but they won't settle for anything less than a sop to Oracle. Perhaps that sop will be to fold JavaFX into the SDK or something. I actually like JavaFX and it would be a good fit and would bring Oracle back in the game to some extent. What I absolutely don't see happening ever is Google using Java ME or dumping Dalvik.

    IMO Oracle / Sun really have themselves to blame for this. Java devs love Java but they despise the glacial pace of development. Java 7 is years overdue and Java ME is stale technology, inadequate for most of the purposes it was touted for. The average STB, or smart phone has outgrown Java ME. I do not blame Google for not waiting around for Oracle's blessing and doing their own thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @05:17PM (#33334604)

    To be safe, you have to either follow the Java Language Specification exactly (no subsets or supersets),

    This is actually the opposite of what Microsoft did. They added stuff in the java.* namespace, so developers would write apps with J++ that they expected to be portable, but which weren't.

    That's only half of it, but the other half is what's important here for somewhat the same reasons. http://www.javaworld.com/javaworld/jw-10-1997/jw-10-lawsuit.html

    According to Sun's press release, "the complaint charges Microsoft with trademark infringement, false advertising, breach of contract, unfair competition, interference with prospective economic advantage, and inducing breach of contract." Specifically, Microsoft made the choice last week to ship products it claims are fully Java 1.1 compliant, but which failed to pass the Java 1.1 compatibility tests the company received from Sun in February. "Microsoft embarked on a deliberate course of conduct to fragment Java," said Alan Baratz, president of JavaSoft, during a Sun teleconference today at 10:30 a.m. PST.

    Sun did complain that MS didn't implement the entire Java feature set, in addition to altering to the Java core libraries, both violations of the agreement with Sun. The situation is covered by a different agreement now for those who wish to use Java IP. The patent protection offered in the Java implementers license only apply to the exact Java specification, nothing more and nothing less:

    Java's licensing is more complex now that it's open source, which might explain why Oracle favored the patent route in its complaint against Google. Open source luminary Bruce Perens points out that the Java Language Specification includes language granting Java implementers free license to Sun's patents, but that doesn't apply here. That license is only valid for complete implementations of Java and its required packages, "without subsetting or supersetting," which the Android implementation clearly is not.

    The problem is that google would be covered if it implemented Java according to the specification, but otherwise it is exposed by picking and choosing what it wants to use. Of course google has a defensive patent portfolio itself, but it doesn't look good for them right now.

    It's interesting to read the arguments *against* open license enforcement, especially here. Isn't the usual mantra, follow it or get deservedly sued? :-P

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @05:17PM (#33334612) Journal

    That isn't the problem at all. Android / Dalvik has never claimed to be an implementation of Java so its irrelevant how much or how little of the standard namespace it has implemented

    Incorrect. Sun / Oracle licenses all of the patents in the lawsuit, for free, for use in complete implementations of the Java platform. The fact that Android / Dalvik is not a complete implementation of the Java platform is precisely the problem because it means that they are not covered by the patent grant. If it were, then the lawsuit would not exist.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @05:40PM (#33334762)

    As far as I know, V8 only works on x86. Which is quite a pity if you wanted to use it on a mobile phone.

    V8 can do ARM as well. V8 is used in Android, in fact.

  • by gral ( 697468 ) <kscarr73@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Sunday August 22, 2010 @09:45PM (#33336400) Homepage
    Actually, the reason the Microsoft J++ issue was a case is because Microsoft signed contracts to license Java. The contract stated they could not create incompatible java releases, they had to follow the Sun Java template. Microsoft broke the contract drastically in key areas of Java. That case is nothing like this case. There was no contract with Google to make a java instance.
  • by Jeremy Allison - Sam ( 8157 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @12:08AM (#33337108) Homepage

    FlorianMueller wrote:

    > I oppose software patents and particularly the use of patents against free and open source software.
    > In Google's case, we are however talking about a company that is very much pro-patent as far its own
    > patents (especially the search engine patents) are concerned and just despises everyone else's when used
    > against it. Now Google effectively calls on the community, but Google doesn't support the community in
    > the fight against software patents.

    I know I'm a Google employee and therefore should be suspect in this (i.e. check my claims about Google, don't take them on trust), but the statement above is untrue. Google submitted an anti-software patent brief in the Bilski case. See here:

    http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Bilski_v._Kappos_amicus_briefs [swpat.org]

    for details.


  • by FlorianMueller ( 801981 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:33AM (#33339998) Homepage

    I can assure you that I want to find out the truth about this, and I believe it's very honorable of you to have made a disclosure.

    I have read Google's Bilski brief, and it only argues against business method patents and "abstract patents" on software, not against software patents in general. It also argues against patent inflation in this area, but that still isn't the same as opposing software patents.

    I saw more than one passage recognizing the idea that future innovation should always be patentable.

    The problem is that even if common sense may make some such wordings look like demands to abolish software patents, substantive patent law has its own logic and terminology. Here in Europe, we have a law that excludes computer programs "as such" from the scope of patentable subject matter. Still a Microsoft FAT patent [blogspot.com] and a Siemens XML document generator patent [blogspot.com] were upheld. New Zealand, too, now has to deal with the problem [blogspot.com] of how to tell software patents from "technical inventions" int his area.

    What Google sent to the SCOTUS was against the Bilski business method patents, and went a little beyond, but was very far from demanding the abolition of patents that read on software. The European Patent Office, which grants tons of software patents all the time, could subscribe to every single one of Google's demands and still justify every single software patent grant it makes.

    Again, forget common sense in connection with substantive patent law. Lots of wording will look on the surface as if they do away with softwaer patents -- without actually doing so if they had to be applied by a court.

  • by FlorianMueller ( 801981 ) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @04:43AM (#33378654) Homepage
    Once again, thanks for your reaction and for having identified yourself. I have meanwhile published a detailed analysis of Google's Bilski brief [blogspot.com] on my blog. It's certainly not "anti-software-patent". It stops far short of arguing that software shouldn't be patentable. It just says some software patents are too abstract, some are too "conventional", but of course, Google's own patents would not be affected by what they proposed. Not at all.

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