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Oracle Seeks $9.3 Billion For Google's Use Of Java In Android (computerworld.com) 343

angry tapir quotes a report from Computerworld: Oracle is seeking as much as $9.3 billion in damages in a long-running copyright lawsuit against Google over its use of Java in Android, court filings show. Oracle sued Google six years ago, claiming the search giant needs a license to use parts of the Java platform in Google's market-leading mobile OS. The two companies first went to trial in 2012, but the jury was split on whether or not Google's use of Java was protected by "fair use." Now they're headed back to the courtroom for a new trial scheduled to begin May 9, where Oracle's Larry Ellison and Google's Eric Schmidt will be present. Currently, the sum Oracle is asking for is about 10 times as much as when the two companies went to trial in 2012.
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Oracle Seeks $9.3 Billion For Google's Use Of Java In Android

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  • pure profit (Score:5, Informative)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @07:40PM (#51796217) Journal
    That's more than they paid for Sun in total. (Sale price was $7.4 billion).
    • Re:pure profit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @07:43PM (#51796227)

      That's why Sun was actually an investment worth making. They hope to make more off of lawsuits with Sun's IP than they paid for Sun.

      Oracle's business model at this point is based off of extracting as much money out of existing customers and through lawsuits as possible. They reached the saturation point in the database market long ago.

      • Re:pure profit (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @07:52PM (#51796289)

        According to the public documents at the time of the purchase they purchased SUN primarily for the hardware division, they apparently valued the software assets very little.

        • Re:pure profit (Score:5, Insightful)

          by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @07:59PM (#51796347)

          Did you expect them to state that they were going to be an IP troll in a public document?

        • Re:pure profit (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28, 2016 @08:04PM (#51796381)
          I was part of the Sun buyout. When we went to Oracle one of the support managers told me that sales (that's all sales in Oracle, hardware and software), is just an enabler for the big money, support/license fees...
        • That would be absurd. Especially since everybody knew Sun's hardware adventures had been going downhill, hard.

          • Re:pure profit (Score:5, Informative)

            by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @10:00PM (#51797023)

            I thought it was absurd at the time but go back and read the interviews, it's right there in black and white. Oracle believed it needed a hardware division to counter IBM and HP who could offer complete hardware/software packages. When Oracle purchased sun, hardware was one aspect of their business they didn't have and they were losing support contracts to IBM and HP because of it. Executive management believed that purchasing SUN would give them the missing piece of the puzzle and allow them to more effectively compete.

            In today's market it would be insane due to the rise of the cloud and the dramatically lower costs is offers but when Oracle purchased SUN the cloud was in it's infancy and had made very few inroads into enterprise computing.

            • Oracle believed it needed a hardware division to counter IBM and HP...

              I think it is more than the hardware, though. Sun's hardware is certainly on a par with HP and IBM, and in my experience comes at a better price than those (I used to buy servers from all three some years ago, in a previous life); but Sun also come with Java, and Solaris, which has a few amazingly good features, like predictive self-healing and ZFS. I know, people keep predicting the imminent demise of Java, but the big players actually still believe in it in a big, if somewhat discreet way: Oracle's databa

        • ... and it shows by how they've been maintaining them.

          Zing!

      • Re:pure profit (Score:4, Informative)

        by somenickname ( 1270442 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @08:23PM (#51796507)

        I actually worked for Sun in the 90s and their IP portfolio is impressive. Employees were encouraged to file patents by increasingly large monetary incentives. This lead to Sun owning the patents on pretty much everything. You want to do addition? Sun had that patent. You want to express a complex number? Sun had that patent. You needed a new air conditioner in your house? File some patents.

        • Half those patents from the 90s are expired now.
          • Re:pure profit (Score:5, Interesting)

            by somenickname ( 1270442 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @08:42PM (#51796619)

            Perhaps. But, the point still remains that my name stands on patents that seem to cover things like addition, complex numbers and even the general idea of algorithms. My name is literally on a patent that could be used to sue someone that had the audacity to add two numbers. That's how fucked up our system is.

            • Re:pure profit (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Daemonik ( 171801 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @11:14PM (#51797443) Homepage
              It's only fucked up because of companies like SUN flooding the patent office, which can't keep up and let's dumb obvious things get through. Your addition patent would fail in any kind of trial and be invalidated, unless you managed to discover some truly novel method and unheard of method of addition, and no "with a computer" doesn't count.
        • by tsotha ( 720379 )
          Sure, but all the other companies are doing the same thing, and every company's patents overlap. You can be sure Google has patents covering the same stuff.
      • Oracle has much more than just a database, though. I would be surprised if their database is more than a fraction of their revenue.
        • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

          Oracle has much more than just a database, though. I would be surprised if their database is more than a fraction of their revenue.

          Perhaps, for some very large value of "fraction." They don't break out what software is what, but software and the support to go along with it is still definitely the lion's share of their business.

      • by bungo ( 50628 )

        From what I understood, Oracle were already invested heavily in Java before they bought Sun, and so in buying Sun, they were protecting their own products and stoping the ability of someone else doing what they are now trying to do to Google.

        They are just following the golden rule of business "Do unto others ..... but do it first."

         

    • Please correct me if I am wrong, but isn't a lot of IBM software based on Java . . . ? Like, anything with the name WebSphere on it . . . ? What is going to happen when Oracle tries to shake down IBM . . . ?

      Oracle ain't no SCO . . .

      • IBM paid Sun/Oracle to license the technology, they have no worries.

      • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @08:42PM (#51796613) Journal
        The problem wasn't that Google used Java to program (like IBM does), that's fine and free to do. The Java license allows anyone to write code using Java, without any restrictions. The problem also wasn't re-implementing Java (like Apache Harmony): anyone is free to do that [wikipedia.org] under the terms of the GPL.

        The problem is that Google re-implemented Java, and tried to release it under different terms than the GPL. Since it is a derivative work, Google needed to follow the terms of the license. Since they tried to release it under BSD (I think that's the license the used), they are now being sued.

        The only question remaining is whether their implementation was a fair use or not. My guess is it will be found not to be, but who knows with a jury trial.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          The problem isn't that Google did that...

          The problem is Google originally did that with Sun's blessing... who was then bought out by Oracle... now Oracle is suing for something the original patent owner gave permission for.
          • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @11:21PM (#51797473) Journal

            The problem is Google originally did that with Sun's blessing..

            If by 'blessing' you mean they got a written or verbal contract giving them permission, then no, you're wrong. Some people at Sun might have been happy about it, but without a contract, 'happiness' doesn't matter.

        • I don't think it really matters. Win or lose, the court battle will go through appeals for years and years. Look how long the SCO trial took before it was finally dead and buried.

          Even if Oracle gets every cent they've asked for, by the time it's reached a final settlement and all appeals have been exhausted, the only ones that will see any of that money will be Oracle's lawyers.
          • Lawyers charge a lot of money, but for a case like this you'd expect on the order of $100million, not something in the billions; even though its a long case.
          • the only ones that will see any of that money will be Oracle's lawyers
            Which are likely employees of Oracle and only get a salary plus a bonus for winning.

        • Didn't they simply use the harmony libraries as a base which were presumably Apache licenced?
          • Didn't they simply use the harmony libraries as a base which were presumably Apache licenced?

            That's a good point, I just checked, and Harmony is Apache-licensed, not GPL. The way they got around it was by doing a clean-room implementation for interoperability purposes. This is allowed as fair use (Sony vs Connectix). (Incidentally, Sun explicitly allowed interoperability as long as it's compatible with their Java: http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Java_... [swpat.org] )

            Google is likely going to try a fair use defense based on interoperability (probably other defenses as well). That isn't likely to work, see this: htt [natlawreview.com]

        • A "reimplementation" is (usually) not a derived work.

          And if it was: doing so and releasing it under GPL would not "prevent" anything. You can not "copy" something infringing copyright and then releasing it under GPL and say: "look but it is GPL, it is not an infringement!"

          The only question remaining is whether their implementation was a fair use or not.
          Actually not. "Fair use" is a term that describes exceptions from "copyright infringement". E.g. you commit an obvious "copyright infringement" but do it b

  • in other news, indonesian, island of java is going to sue both oracle and google.

    and are coffee producers entitled to some that loot too? think of all the coffee that is needed to code. but what about tea?

    • by gnupun ( 752725 )

      Google should have paid the $200 million or so initially to license it legally from Sun, instead they played all these games to save a tiny bit of money. Everyone knows how valuable Android is today, and how useful Java is to make Android run. So expect Google to pay $2 to $5 billion.

  • Strange signal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lars_boegild_thomsen ( 632303 ) <lth@noSPAm.cow.dk> on Monday March 28, 2016 @07:47PM (#51796251) Homepage Journal

    I am fully aware that the law suit is a bit more complex than simply using Java in a product, but I still think that Oracle is sending a weird signals to their existing and potential customers:

    "Feel free to use our products for free but if you get successful we will sue you to get a piece of the cake."

    I miss Sun!

    • by infolation ( 840436 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @07:58PM (#51796345)

      if you get successful we will sue you to get a piece of the cake

      Estimating about $2.50 for a 300g cake, that's roughly 1.1 million metric tonnes of cake.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Kjella ( 173770 )

      "Feel free to use our products for free but if you get successful we will sue you to get a piece of the cake."

      Maybe your analogy would work better if Google didn't replace Sun/Oracle's product with their own instead of writing Java applications. If someone took AOSP, reimplemented a ton of the Google Play APIs and shipped a non-Google "Android" phone I wouldn't expect Google to be very happy about that either.

    • Re:Strange signal (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tsotha ( 720379 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @09:59PM (#51797019)

      ... I still think that Oracle is sending a weird signals to their existing and potential customers

      It is. Even if you're in the right and think you can win you have to think very seriously before doing something like that. Where I work the (not Oracle) database vendor we had used for years started suing its customers - they sued us for millions after recalculating our license fees and arriving at a ridiculous number. So we wrote them out of all our applications and refused to buy anything from them. I'm not sure who won the lawsuit, but in just a handful of years they were out of business.

  • I mean, if you're going to anchor the negotiating point, [wikipedia.org]

    By all means, Go big.

  • By any reasonable measure the $8.8 billion of damages attributed to Google's profit from Android is beyond obscene and unreasonable. Which means it must have been calculated from the same formula that Oracle uses to rape their database customers with.
  • It all sounds so familiar. Why would that be? Oh yes. Oracle is a purveyor of databases software. The SCO Group used to be a purveyor of operating system software. However, it eventually upped its claims against IBM to at least $5 billion. Not far short of Oracle's demand for $9.3 billion. Where is SCO now?

    http://www.groklaw.net/pdf4/IB... [groklaw.net]
    "Today SCO is, as the Court is aware, in a LIQUIDATION process ... It started out as a Chapter 11, became a Chapter 7 going back to 2007. These claims are the last,

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      Oracle may or may not go out of business someday, but don't confuse them with SCO.

      SCO was run by idiots and may have been a puppet of Microsoft. Larry may be an asshole, but Oracle is in a competely different league than SCO.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        Personally I think SCO was not run by idiots but by a pair of serial con-artists.
        The lawyer who got most of the SCO money is Darl's brother.
        It wasn't Darl's first run at extracting vast amounts of cash via lawyer from the place he was supposed to be running.
    • I haven't purchased from Oracle and I don't plan to. Besides this case, I just don't think the cost/benefit ratio is there.

      Some will say that you have to pay big bucks if you have a lot of data or a lot of transactions, but Facebook used MySQL (aka MariaDB) to scale pretty large, and they now use Hadoop and Presto to process more than a terabyte each day.

      If open source databases handle Facebook and Google , I think they'll be enough for my needs.

      That said, Oracle has $170 billion, based on market valuation.

      • If open source databases handle Facebook and Google , I think they'll be enough for my needs.

        Facebook is run on NoSQL databases (Cassandra I believe). In other words: non relational databases.
        Oracle is a relational database.

        So the power and scaling has nothing to do of "closed sources" aka professionals versus "open source" aka hobbyists.

        Googles "appstore" is also run originally by NoSQL databases, no idea if they offer true relational ones now.

        However many people scale MySQL/MariaSQL "in the cloud" ... tha

        • Facebook uses three database management systems, Hadoop, MySQL, and Cassandra. One thing they use Hadoop for is backups of their MySQL.

          • Facebook doesn't use Cassandra much anymore. They their Cassandra DB helped jumpstart the NoSQL craze, Facebook soon realized they were wrong - Codd and Date had it right the first time, with the relational model. Now mostly Facebook uses Apache Presto, an SQL query processor that uses Hadoop as storage (much like MariaDB uses various storage engines). Another thing they use Hadoop for is to store backups of their MySQL/MariaDB databases.

            So yeah you said four sentences and two are factually incorrect, mak

            • I was not aware that facebook migrated away from Cassandra. They used to be a show case for it.

              an SQL query processor that uses Hadoop as storage That does not really make sense.
              As I could figure on short notice, the data in the MySQL databases is processed periodically and transformed into Hadoop based data storages.

              Also your comment seems more to aim for the "data analysis" part of Facebook and not the storage of user data. It makes no sense, regardless how you cluster, to store the user data, their posts

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom ( 2244874 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @08:02PM (#51796357)
    Oracle likes to boast about Java being installed on so many devices. And people use Java to make Android software. You'd think they'd be thanking Google instead of trying to mug them.
  • Invalid claim... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @08:02PM (#51796361) Homepage Journal

    Weird... wasn't Java GPL'd at one point (2006-2007)? Oracle does not have a leg to stand on here even if Google were to take the whole stack and redistribute it. They would merely be required to make the source available - which they have done and it has led to derivatives/forks.

    But, as Android is built on a Java _clone_ (Apache Harmony, soon OpenJDK) on top of Linux. Oracle's claim is even weaker.

  • ...for FLOSS evangelists to convert people to Firebird and PostgreSQL with an ever greater fervor than ever before. And to non-Java languages, of course.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @08:55PM (#51796707) Journal

      Agreed, but the problem is that there is no alternative statically-typed ("compile-y") language out there that seems ready in terms of being road-tested and not too different from other common production languages.

      C# is too MS-tied with a similar legal-greed risk, and C++ is too low-level to replace Java and C#.

      Object Pascal? Ada? too complex. Eiffel? too much like Pascal such that you might as well go Pascal.

      Python, Ruby, Php, etc. are dynamic languages. They have their place, but for certain classes of applications you need a static/strict typed language.

      Object-Fortran? :-) I dunno
         

      • by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @10:00PM (#51797027) Homepage

        C# is too MS-tied with a similar legal-greed risk

        Actually C# had already a freer license by the early 2000s. I distinctly remember pointing this out and people dismissing my concerns with Java since back then Sun was one of the good guys.

        C++ is too low-level to replace Java and C#.

        Modern, core C++ is about as high level as Java and without the JVM overhead. Read up on it. The C++ core as proposed by Bjarne has a good chance of becoming the Java replacement.

      • Good points.
      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        The problem with Object-Pascal is poor documentation. Also, it has poor unicode support.

        Ada is less complex than C++ (calling it more complex used to be true before the STL). But it's default strings are fixed length, and different lengths of fixed length strings can't be compared. And it's difficult to flex in other ways. I like lots of things about it, but for my purposes it's too rigid in too many places.

        Eiffel? That's hardly like Pascal at all. But there's only one version that's still doing much

  • by aberglas ( 991072 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @08:23PM (#51796495)

    Why on earth did they copy the Java APIs? Most of them are not particularly good anyway.

    Sure the law on this was a little unclear, which is a good reason to stay right away from it. And so easy to do. Not hard to tweak an Eclipse parser for a similar but different language.

    Maybe it is because Google got rid of all there MBAs and used engineering management?

    • How are APIs copyrightable anyway? Wasn't the whole Compaq lawsuit way back when about building functionality behind an API without changing the API? They wrote a detailed API spec for DOS and then had separate "pure" engineers who knew nothing about the DOS implementation build their own DOS, and thus they had a functionally identical clone of the DOS API such that DOS programs could run on Compaq's new PC clone.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No silly imp. Compaq only reverse engineered the BIOS and did a clean-room implementation so that Microsoft DOS would boot on their hardware. It's the BIOS API/spec they dealt with, and they only implemented enough to get it working.

      • by glitch! ( 57276 )

        I think your memory is close, but not quite right. I think Compaq cloned the BIOS, not DOS. IBM published the PC BIOS source code (in one of those boxed binders that the PC made standard for years.) There was no reason to clone DOS, since the customer had to buy either PC-DOS or MS-DOS anyway.

      • How are APIs copyrightable anyway?
        They are not. In most copyright laws (most countries) it is even explicitly written in the law.

    • Why on earth did they copy the Java APIs? Most of them are not particularly good anyway.

      I think it was already written that way when they bought the Android company.

    • Why on earth did they copy the Java APIs? Most of them are not particularly good anyway.

      They are not? Wow ... I switched to Java coming from C++ mainly forced to do MFC stuff and related stuff on Windows.

      You must have been working in a research lab that you encountered better APIs than Java's ... where is that? Can I apply for a job there?

  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @08:23PM (#51796497)

    Java is available under a GPL + exceptions license. Google should take this GPL code and use it as a base for a new VM. Make whatever changes are required to make it slot in place of their current VM (something the GPL explicitly allows them to do) and start shipping it. The "classpath exception" in the Java license would allow them to keep other stuff (such as Google Play Services, the Google store and all the Google apps) closed source whilst still being in compliance with the license attached to the open source Java code.

    Yes it will cost a chunk of money to do all the rewrites and stuff but it would mean Oracle has no ability to claim they violated the copyright of the various Java APIs (since the code that implements those APIs in the new VM would be a derived work of the GPL Java source code (where the license explicitly gives you all the rights under copyright law you would need regardless of whether APIs are actually copyrightable or not)

  • in their defense, if they had not bought SUN where would SUN be today? In the Tech trash heap, along with Digital Equipment and others. SUN had a lot of assets - great hardware, intellectual property, etc - but they couldn't sell anything.

    Oracle, to their credit, recognized this and bought them up. For what seems now like a bargain price. They realized that they had a great database product but didn't have the enterprise applications to go with it. So they bought PeopleSoft and JD Edwards and some other pie

  • I'm looking forward to when Google finally decides to discontinue supporting Java.

  • Android would have died without the write-once run-badly-everywhere aspects of Java. Google could have written its own, but it chose to copy Java's APIs.

    It's not like there were a lot of multi-platform options out there. Tk/TCL?

    Time to pay up, google. Your technical debt is calling.

We can found no scientific discipline, nor a healthy profession on the technical mistakes of the Department of Defense and IBM. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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