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Legal Analysis of Oracle v. Google 206

Posted by timothy
from the not-to-be-confused-with-a-free-market dept.
snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Martin Heller provides an in-depth analysis of Oracle's legal argument against Google, a suit that includes seven alleged counts of software process patent infringement and one count of copyright infringement. 'Oracle's desired relief is drastic: not just permanent injunctions, but destruction of all copies that violate copyright (thus, wiping all Android devices), plus triple damages and legal costs. Also, it demands a jury trial,' Heller writes, and while this amounts mainly to saber-rattling, the Supreme Court's recent Bilski ruling did not completely invalidate software process patents despite their shaky ground due to prior art."
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Legal Analysis of Oracle v. Google

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  • Infoworld? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eldiabloencarne (1882562) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:05AM (#33310902) Journal

    Where's Groklaw in all of this?

  • Haw. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:07AM (#33310910) Homepage Journal
    Everybody knows how to use Googles' services, but not everybody's had the displeasure of working with Oracle's often slow-as-shit Java databases. Oracle's balls in this case are a typical indication of its niche-but-top-heavy domination in the 'states.
  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:07AM (#33310914)

    I'll sum up the article:

    1) Oracle is suing Java over Android.
    2) Oracle hired a really good lawyer, so they must be serious.
    3) I sure hate software patents.
    4) Oracle would like all copies of Android destroyed, but this isn't likely.
    5) Sun might settle out of court.
    6) Did I mention I hate software patents?
    7) You should try to make life harder for Oracle, since I hate software patents.

    With all due respect to the author, half the posts on this Slashdot thread will probably have as much to say and contain as much useful information -- but really, maybe whoever wrote/published the article summary is more to blame for claims the article just doesn't live up to.

    • by colinrichardday (768814) <colin.day.6@hotmail.com> on Friday August 20, 2010 @03:01AM (#33311124)

      1) Oracle is suing Java over Android.

      Doesn't Oracle own Java, at least to the extent that anyone owns Java?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by game kid (805301)
        Probably meant "Google". I wouldn't put it past Ellison et al. to sue their own subsidiaries or products if they were somehow disloyal, though.
    • by 5pp000 (873881) *

      Mod parent up! This was indeed a remarkably uninformative article.

    • by mike260 (224212)

      Second.

      I particularly liked his "The patent titles don't sound novel to me, therefore they must be invalid" argument.
      If you're going to pretend to 'legal analysis', you have to at least skim the patents themselves, not just the titles.

    • by beat.bolli (126492) <me+slashNO@SPAMdrbeat.li> on Friday August 20, 2010 @03:57AM (#33311342) Homepage
      Much more in-depth: http://blog.headius.com/2010/08/my-thoughts-on-oracle-v-google.html [headius.com] Especially the second part, where he analyzes each patent's claims.
    • by roman_mir (125474)

      1) Oracle is suing Java over Android.

      - I am suing my knees, they fucking hurt.

  • by kclittle (625128) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:13AM (#33310936)
    The only thing "in-depth" about this article is the fact the author seems in over his head.
  • by fvandrog (899507) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:17AM (#33310946)
    I'd almost suspect they just bought Sun to use the cited patents in court. The patents are so broad and ill defined that if they uphold there are not many processes that do not violate them. (Heck -- my coffee-maker probably violates them!)
  • Wow... waste of time article there. I could read most of this in slashdot comments. I think that article lost its informative nature after the first four paragraphs. The speculation got deep and fast and ended with "if I were younger, I would..." and then completely forgot that he wasn't endorsing an Oracle boycott and said "are you ready to vote with your wallet?"

    I think the editor fell asleep at the wheel on this one.

  • Mods ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by udippel (562132) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:30AM (#33310998)

    Please, mod up the submitter. Submitting is his good right, and we should reward his efforts.

    Please, mod timothy down for accepting a boring, not-even-a-story.

    Please, mod the original author 'overrated', since his story should never have made it into infoworld in the first place.

    • Please, mod up the submitter. Submitting is his good right, and we should reward his efforts.

      Please, mod timothy down for accepting a boring, not-even-a-story.

      There is a logical disconnect here. You're saying we should mod up the submitter for submitting a story that sucks, and mod down the editor who accepted it? Why wouldn't I mod down both, if only to discourage said behavior from being repeated?

      (Yes, I know this is just theoretical, since the story itself and comments are the only things we can mod up

  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:37AM (#33311026) Homepage

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20100815110101756 [groklaw.net]

    Just read the first few paragraphs of this and it's 2:30 here... time for bed. But I got as far as what eerily described Sun's suit against Microsoft so long ago.

    Sun sued Microsoft successfully for their embrace and extend of Java. They claimed it damaged the Java dream of single binaries that run everywhere. Most of us on slashdot agree with that notion as a Microsoft version of Java would make Sun's Java appear broken due to their huge distribution model.

    Now we have Sun (Oracle America) making claims against Google. Not that they are violating a license or agreement, but in spirit may contain the same basic drives as described in the Groklaw article. "New-Sun" is, perhaps, trying to do what "Sun" did before -- successfully take down a giant a step or two. After all, what were the end results of Sun v. Microsoft?

    • by Ciggy (692030) on Friday August 20, 2010 @03:49AM (#33311296)

      Subtle difference to the analogy:

      MS embraced and extended Java and called it Java, thus breaking the Java standard that is supposed to run everywhere - MS Java can only be expected to run [properly] on a MS JRE, NOT ANY JRE.;

      whereas Google took Java, possibly embraced and extended, BUT did NOT call it Java - there can be no confusion over the resultant code being able to run everywhere there is a JRE - but also created a cross-compiler which took Java [source] and converted it to their version.

      The problem comes in that Oracle are claiming that Software Patents cover Java and thus are being violated as only licensed for use in Java [and JRE] and NOT for use in a different product [I think - I seem to remember on a casual reading about this case that Java licensing for Mobile devices being more expensive than for a "desktop" computer and Google not willing to pay for the obvious market inflation, hence "developing" their own Runtime Environment which also had the benefit of being able to be optimised better].

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by farble1670 (803356)

        whereas Google took Java, possibly embraced and extended, BUT did NOT call it Java - there can be no confusion over the resultant code being able to run everywhere there is a JRE - but also created a cross-compiler which took Java [source] and converted it to their version.

        i'm on a few android aliases, and this question comes every week or so. developers are constantly confused, so i think it's a bit of an overstatement to say "there can be no confusion".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

      ``"New-Sun" is, perhaps, trying to do what "Sun" did before -- successfully take down a giant a step or two. After all, what were the end results of Sun v. Microsoft?''

      Instead of Microsoft making an incompatible Java-like platform and calling it Java, we got Microsoft making an incompatible Java-done-better platform and calling it .NET. I regard this as a Good Thing: first of all, because it prevented Microsoft from taking over Java and kept the competition from Sun alive, and, secondly, because I feel that

    • by Xtifr (1323) on Friday August 20, 2010 @04:09AM (#33311372) Homepage

      Big difference is that Microsoft signed a contract saying they wouldn't do what they did. Google did a clean-room implementation. MS case was about contracts; this case is about patents. Also, Java wasn't under the GPL at the time of MS's shenanigans, but it is now. Further, from my point of view, MS tried to extend Java, so software developed for MS's systems wouldn't run elsewhere, which potentially hurts everyone but MS; Google, AFAIK, implemented a subset of Java, so software developed on other systems might not run on Google's, which really only hurts Google. The cases really aren't parallel at all, but you are correct that Oracle America's motivations may be similar.

    • by DrXym (126579) on Friday August 20, 2010 @04:20AM (#33311406)
      Sun sued Microsoft successfully for their embrace and extend of Java. They claimed it damaged the Java dream of single binaries that run everywhere. Most of us on slashdot agree with that notion as a Microsoft version of Java would make Sun's Java appear broken due to their huge distribution model.

      Not the same at all. Google has never claimed they have implemented Java, hasn't licenced the tech from Sun, hasn't used the Java trademark or logo. Microsoft did and proceeded to make their version incompatible. Android uses Java as the programming API but the actual bytecode and VM it runs under is completely different.

      Partly this is to skirt around this issue, but also I suspect because it is genuinely more efficient. Dalvik is an incredibly lightweight VM, perfectly suited for its use.

      IMO Oracle is just angling for a piece of the pie. Their own efforts with Java ME failed because the tech was allowed to stagnate so it was a no brainer that people moved over to Android. ME is okay, but it's just not up to the task of powering a smart phone. It's too bad for Oracle, but really they only have themselves to blame. The odd thing is they could probably still carve out a niche on Android if they ported JavaFX across - it would probably be quite a nice fit.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by inode_buddha (576844)
        Informative post you made. Notice also that Oracle hired the same lawyers that SCO used; and they want a jury trial in this case also. I wonder how mmany of the same legal tricks they'll try in this case, such as obfuscation and delay to the point of skulduggery.
      • Not the same at all. Google has never claimed they have implemented Java, hasn't licenced the tech from Sun, hasn't used the Java trademark or logo. Microsoft did and proceeded to make their version incompatible. Android uses Java as the programming API but the actual bytecode and VM it runs under is completely different.

        Partly this is to skirt around this issue, but also I suspect because it is genuinely more efficient. Dalvik is an incredibly lightweight VM, perfectly suited for its use.

        Google's going to

        • by DrXym (126579)
          "All applications are written using the Java programming language.". This has an implication that the implementation of Android is close enough to Java to implement its quirks, which are likely covered by Oracle patents.

          Just because the text language is Java says nothing of the runtime. After all, Google's GWT uses Java as a language but then it translates the Java source into Javascript that runs in a browser. Similarly, IKVM runs Java byte code dynamic but can also compile it to run natively over the .N

    • by Spad (470073)

      After all, what were the end results of Sun v. Microsoft?

      Windows XP Service Pack 1a

    • by micheas (231635)

      After all, what were the end results of Sun v. Microsoft?

      MSFT Market cap two hundred billion, SUNW rescued before bankruptcy was forced on them?

    • After all, what were the end results of Sun v. Microsoft?
      The end result was that MS abandoned JAVA and developed it's own replacement. They even provided a tool for converting your JAVA code to run on .net.

  • "Also demands a jury trial"

    So you're going to grab a bunch of people 'off the street' and try to get them to understand what patents are, what software is and how this software infringes this patent. This will defentally give an honest and fair trial.

    • Re:A jury Trial (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Aeternitas827 (1256210) on Friday August 20, 2010 @03:29AM (#33311222)
      It would actually seem a wiser move, for a Civil case; the burden of proof is much lower, all Oracle must make them see is that 'The company we bought made this, and those guys stole it, based on X, Y, Z (without getting exceedingly technical), where everyone else has had to pay to use it.' Google are the ones who have to get technical, and will likely lose the jury in trying to split hairs to make it seem like they really didn't 'steal' their implementation. It basically comes down to good guy vs bad guy, and Oracle are pretty confident that, should this reach trial, they can play a pretty decent good guy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Also demands a jury trial"

      So you're going to grab a bunch of people 'off the street' and try to get them to understand what patents are, what software is and how this software infringes this patent. This will defentally give an honest and fair trial.

      Well, based on "destruction of all copies that violate copyright (thus, wiping all Android devices)" I'd say that Oracle isn't aiming for a trial. Bringing a lawsuit like this looks very much like corporate extortion to me.

      But then, I'm neither a lawyer nor an American.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      So you're going to grab a bunch of people 'off the street' and try to get them to understand what patents are, what software is and how this software infringes this patent. This will defentally give an honest and fair trial.

      Well, exactly, that's why it's the plaintiffs (Oracle) not the defendants (Google) who want the jury trial. They know they've got a better chance of bamboozling a jury than a judge.

    • Old English legal saying. If you are guilty (or have a bad civil case) choose a jury. If you have a strong case or are innocent, choose a judge. If Oracle had any kind of strong case, they would obviously want a trial without jury because it would be over faster, their costs would be lower and they would get redress quicker. So? So this looks like a classical Von Falkenhayn Battle [wikipedia.org] (after the German WW1 Minister who wanted a battle that would be inconclusive but would go on a long time, so as to wear out the
  • How does this work? would google have to hunt down every single android phone and destroy/wipe its software?

    If so, they will have to extract my android device from Lary ellison's bum.

    • by Haedrian (1676506)

      Well apple have 'remote detonation' abilities - so maybe Google have the same. Probably would offer a 'refund' then after X weeks disable it remotely.

      But since this is taking place in America, what will happen is:

      Party X will win. Party Y will file an appeal
      Party Y will win. Party X will file an appeal.

      And eventually one of them will either give up - or google replaces all its software to conform to standards.

      • by KlaymenDK (713149)

        Okay, let's follow this train of thought:
        - Oracle wins, forcing destruction of all copies that violate copyright.
        - This means _all_ Android handsets must be not only factory reset, but zapped entirely. This also includes _all 3rd party_ apps and services from the professional and recreational community. That's _a lot_ of software.
        - All Android users will be up in arms.
        - Hundreds of thousands of Americans will file a class action law suit (but against whom, Google or Oracle?).
        - Hundreds of thousands of non-A

    • by RDW (41497)

      'How does this work? would google have to hunt down every single android phone and destroy/wipe its software?'

      http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2010/06/exercising-our-remote-application.html [blogspot.com]

      "After the researcher voluntarily removed these applications from Android Market, we decided, per the Android Market Terms of Service, to exercise our remote application removal feature on the remaining installed copies to complete the cleanup...The remote application removal feature is one of many security controls

      • that removes apps only, not android itself.. i would find it very hard to believe google would build in a self-wipe function

        • by RDW (41497)

          From the official site - 'Android is a software stack for mobile devices that includes an operating system, middleware and key applications.'. There are several key applications which, if disabled, would effectively cripple the device (on my phone, even 'Android System' is listed as an app, though I've no idea if Google has the ability to disable it remotely). Are any of these apps potentially subject to Oracle's patent attack?

  • Help me Slashdot (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Sun sues Microsoft over Java = GOOD? Oracle sues Google over Java = BAD?

    • by Spad (470073)

      Microsoft were shipping their own, crippled JVM with Windows in an attempt to screw Sun over, I'm not really sure you can put Google in the same category here.

    • Sun sues Microsoft over Java = GOOD? Oracle sues Google over Java = BAD?

      This is an over simplification. As I understand it:

      • Sun vs. Microsoft: Microsoft did an 'embrace and extend' omitting required implementations like RMI and adding stuff not available on standard VM's, making sure a lot of incompatibilities would make the Java platform ineffective on the internet (Applets), desktop (AWT, JFC vs WFC) etc. MS's intention was to kill Java.
      • Oracle vs. Google : Oracle uses the fact that the Android code is written in a subset of Java and crosscompiled to some other format (Dalv
  • by syousef (465911) on Friday August 20, 2010 @03:07AM (#33311146) Journal

    Ahhhh shit! Time to learn another fucking language and 10 more over-engineered libraries! So much for time with the family.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

      ``Time to learn another fucking language and 10 more over-engineered libraries!''

      Not if Google does the Right Thing and just goes with an already existing language and existing libraries. It's not like that wouldn't work on today's mobile devices. They already have Linux running on them; now give us a libc and a widget library and we're off to a great start.

      Making your mobile platform incompatible with anything already out there is a choice, and not a choice I agree with.

      • by Tapewolf (1639955)

        They already have Linux running on them; now give us a libc and a widget library and we're off to a great start.

        They already have a libc, you can get at it via the NDK.
        The snag is that you can't - afaik - run a native application directly, it has to be done via Java/Dalvik and calling the native code via JNI. And also the NDK has no libraries to access the user interface.
        If they could just solve those two little problems, you could do fully native GUI application development in C++.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by debatem1 (1087307)
          You can call back up into Java from the JNI, so technically the NDK exposes everything that the Java side does. I used this to allow Python access to the android libraries via javalin2 last year.
        • by Timmmm (636430)

          The snag is that you can't - afaik - run a native application directly, it has to be done via Java/Dalvik and calling the native code via JNI. And also the NDK has no libraries to access the user interface.

          True, although you can access OpenGL from native code now. Still, the java wrapper/JNI stuff is a massive pain in the arse.

      • by Ash Vince (602485)

        Making your mobile platform incompatible with anything already out there is a choice, and not a choice I agree with.

        Do you make phones? If not your opinion is worthless as you are not a Google customer for Android.

        Google have to do what the likes of HTC, Samsung, Motorola and whoever else want. That means they want to be able to build a phone manufacturer specific "look and feel" on top of android that makes their android unique. They usually do not want to open source this work because these are hardware manufacturers. Companies that design their own hardware are generally reluctant to embrace open source for some reaso

  • by FlorianMueller (801981) on Friday August 20, 2010 @03:09AM (#33311156) Homepage

    There's a fundamental error in the InfoWorld analysis referenced above:

    Oracle simply asks for absolutely standard remedies in this situation. There's nothing evil about it, and it cannot be reasonably interpreted as a strategy to destroy open source as a whole or anything like that.

    I'm saying this even though I opposed Oracle's acquisition of Sun [blogspot.com]. I just want to point out that if a case like this goes to court, the plaintiff will always ask for those kinds of remedies. There's nothing unusual about it. In fact, asking for less would be unusual and would probably confuse the judges as to what Oracle actually wants.

    Intellectual property rights are exclusive rights. That's the way the law has designed them -- it's not a matter of Oracle being evil. Those IPRs entitle a right holder to enforce exclusivity. That necessarily means to ask for an injunction, and under such circumstances as the ones of this case (with copyright in play), also the destruction of infringing material.

    The way to prevent that scenario from materializing is a license agreement between Oracle and Google. So it's up to the two parties to sit down and negotiate, and I believe we as a community should now expect both of them to be constructive. The court can't impose a license agreement on the two of them. If the court has to rule, it will -- if Oracle is right -- have to enforce exclusivity. That's sort of binary, whereas a license agreement would offer much more flexibility.

    It's regrettable that they couldn't work this out before the matter was taken to court. But it's not too late until there is a final court ruling.

    • Can Google buy Oracle extract the IP they want and later spin Oracle of again minus the bits its becoming apparent it would have been better Oracle hadn't got hold of in the first place?

      Google is bigger and richer and they wouldn't be losing money taking over a profitable company, would they?

       

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Google's market capitalization as of now is around 150 billion dollars, Oracle's around 115 billion dollars. So it wouldn't be easy for Google to just gobble up Oracle. Theoretically, if Google bought Oracle, it could solve the IP problem. But these two companies are more or less on an equal footing in financial terms (although the $35 billion difference in market cap is nothing to sneeze at in absolute terms ;-)).
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hackerjoe (159094)

        Google is big, but Google is not big enough to just buy Oracle. Their market caps are pretty close: Google at ~$150bn, Oracle at ~$115bn.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          It would be interesting to see how the stock holders would move if Google made an offer.

    • The term 'intellectual property' is designed to confuse us about patents and copyright concepts. Basically you can not own ideas, but in the interest of stimulating innovation and sharing ideas, lawmakers provide a temporary, exclusive right to your ideas via patents and copyright. As opposed to land and other property that is for exclusive use in perpetuity.

      Besides that, the problem is not what they ask but why they ask it. Basically Oracle thinks Dalvik is an illegal copy/clone/implementation of Java an

  • How can I vote this article down? It's so insipid and lacks anything new I wonder why it was approved in the first place.

    Groklaw did publish something useful and interesting, this piece of opinion is nothing new.

    • by Haedrian (1676506)

      You press the - button to the left edge of the title.

      But its probably too late for that. Its red.

  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Friday August 20, 2010 @05:10AM (#33311618) Homepage

    I've done two other analyses of Oracle v. Google [swpat.org]:

  • Maybe Oracle and Google have secretly agreed to create this circus in order to show the world how stupid software patents are?

    If this ever makes it to the supreme court, the most likely result is the invalidation of the whole software patents idea. Specially after the media has gone over it again and again and people is educated about how stupid software patents are, judges included.

  • I propose a new logo for Oracle stories on Slashdot. As Oracle is obviously The Evil Empire, it should get a Death Star as its logo.

  • A jury of android users will slap Oracle down. A jury of iPhone users will ban all Android.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by turkeyfish (950384)

      Given that it would seem the jury pool will consist only of people who don't own a cell phone or a computer, which should really provide a crap shoot for all involved. Might as well let the judge be that octopus that perfectly predicted the World Cup results.

  • "... and represented former vice president Al Gore in the disputed 2004 U.S. election results."

  • The remedies Oracle is requesting almost certainly amount to saber-rattling, because I doubt they could get an injunction under the criteria the Supreme Court set in MercExchange [wikipedia.org]

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