Many of us may remember there was a lawsuit filed against Microsoft by Sun over Microsoft’s inclusion and distribution of the Java Run time in its operating systems. In essence, Microsoft was voluntarily offering a Sun product to its customers at no cost to Sun or the end user.
The problem with this was that Sun felt its intellectual property rites that of the Java language were being infringed leading to the legal action against Microsoft. I’ve never understood why, a piece of software that is openly downloadable at no charge should be the subject of a legal battle between the two corporate entities, especially when there are so many other things they can fight over.
Now Its Google’s turn.
Oracle in their acquisition of Sun has taken possession of the Intellectual Property Rights of Java and many other Sun related brands in the process. Google has of course not been licensed for use of this technology and are distributing it at no cost to Oracle, essentially free advertising and customers.
This is not enough for Oracle whom have filed a lawsuit against Google for seven patent infringements in relation to Java in the increasingly popular android operating system. These kinds of legal challenges benefit no one as google will undoubtedly fight it at cost, and Oracle will put up the cost of chasing after this.
With Java being freely available albeit with the threat of Oracle suing for using it, it is quite a surprise that it has managed to flourish as a programming language. Many developers will want to provide an out of the box installation of their product which legal action like this could make it increasingly difficult to support Java as a legitimate programming language for the future.
Incidentally, Sun actually decided to release the Java Code under the GPL I would not be surprised if Oracle has not updated this since the acquisition and therefore Java is still GPL code and this would certainly infringe on Oracles plan to cause terror and fear in the hearts of Android based manufacturers.
In related news, Apple is suing HTC for infringement of 20 patents in the iPhone4 the big shiny toy that doesn’t really work. Perhaps apple should go back to the drawing board on that one as going by the information we’ve seen HTC’s phones actually work. Could this be an underhanded attack on google by Oracle and Apple?
Free Software Foundation