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Print 27 comment(s) - last by drycrust3.. on Apr 6 at 3:55 AM

Software company holds out, hoping to bleed Google of more money

In U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California last week, Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal urged Google Inc. (GOOG) and Oracle Corp. (ORCL) to reach a settlement and licensing compromise in Oracle's lawsuit against Google's mobile Android OS.

Google, according to a Reuters report, had offered Oracle $2.8M USD in damages, a figure which Google acknowledged could grow if it loses the infringement trial (Oracle could make as much as $100M USD, according to recent valuations by expert witnesses).  More importantly Google offered to license Oracle's two asserted patents in the case, at a rate of 0.5 percent of Android's revenue for one patent, and 0.15 percent for a second patent.

Oracle wasn't impressed, so it rejected the offer.  A trial date was just set for April 16 at the San Francisco District Court.  Judge William H. Alsup will preside in the trial phase.

In announcing that the settlement could not be reached and that the parties were headed to trial, Judge Grewal solemnly stated, "[T]he parties have reached an irreconcilable impasse in their settlement discussions with the undersigned... no further conferences shall be convened... [I]n the end, some cases just need to be tried."

He wished both companies' teams of lawyers "good luck" in the final battle.

JavaGoogle has been dealt a bitter cup in the Java case. [Image Source: Oracle]

In the trial Oracle will try to establish that Google knowingly used the open source Apache distribution of Java, despite knowing it was not validly licensed and could be in infringement of Sun Microsystems' intellectual property, which Oracle inherited via its $7B USD Jan. 2010 acquisition of Sun.

Oracle's case is built heavily around emails indicating that Android managers were aware of this issue, but did not move aggressively to address it.  Oracle also displays Java processing source files contained in the Android repository and how they allegedly reuse blocks of Sun's code, without holding a valid license.

Ultimately, Oracle's goal is to find Google is in infringement of its Java patents.  While the damages (up to $100M USD) may not be huge, the licensing fees could be, if Google loses.  It's unclear exactly how much Oracle can extract from Google in terms of licensing fees, given that Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is already raking in $10-15 USD per device [1][2][3][4].  With most Android devices already having narrow profit margins, and with Google only making a small haul on advertising, it's unclear how much revenue their really is for Oracle to gobble up, despite Android being the world's most used smartphone platform.

In addition, Apple, Inc. (AAPL) is attempting to ban Android handsets altogether in the U.S., which may make licensing fees a moot point.

Google, on the other hand, will try to establish that Sun Microsystems knew about and verbally permitted its unlicensed use of Java.  Google points to Sun Microsystems as having called Android a tool to "spread news and word about Java."

It quotes former Sun chief executive Jonathan Schwartz who praised the launch of the unlicensed Android as an "incredible" day for the Java family -- rather inconsistent language with Oracle's claims that Google flagrantly infringed on Sun's Java IP rights.  (Oracle tried to delete the blog in which the former CEO wrote this, but was foiled by webpage archiving.)

We will keep you updated as the trial progresses ahead.

Sources: ZDNet, Reuters



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Licences used to be so simple.
By drycrust3 on 4/4/2012 1:26:57 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
In the trial Oracle will try to establish that Google knowingly used the open source Apache distribution of Java, despite knowing it was not validly licensed and could be in infringement of Sun Microsystems' intellectual property, which Oracle inherited via its $7B USD Jan. 2010 acquisition of Sun.

One of the potential problems here is that Java was released by Sun under the GNU General Public Licence in November 2006, which means it was originally released under GPL 2.1, which isn't compatible with the Apache 2.0 licence, but the current GPL 3.0 is compatible with the Apache licence. However, as far as I can tell there isn't an automatic progression from GPL 2.1 to GPL 3.0.
According to Wikipedia's article on GNU GPL, 'if you want to combine code licensed under different versions of GPL, then this is allowed if the code with the older GPL version includes an "any later version" statement.' I looked through the Java licence terms and I couldn't find anything like that, so I guess that means Java was remains under GPL 2.1.
While reading the Java licence, it seemed to me that the terms of it were that it was free for use in "programs", it didn't specifically mention operating systems as well, so Android may have violated the terms of that licence.
There is a version of Java called "IcedTea" which is much less restrictively licenced than the version that Sun released, and has been used by both Ubuntu and Fedora, but this doesn't seem to be the version of Java used in Android.
All in all, I think this means Oracle may have a case.




RE: Licences used to be so simple.
By Trisped on 4/4/2012 6:18:21 PM , Rating: 2
The trial is not about the use of Java, it is about the use of elements which are part of Apache and its license.
"Google used source files from Apache's Java project..." http://www.dailytech.com/Update+Google+And+Java+So...

In my mind the important thing to note is that Sun Original praised the use and did not seek licensing:
quote:
It quotes former Sun chief executive Jonathan Schwartz who praised the launch of the unlicensed Android as an "incredible" day for the Java family

So while Google needs to license the software now that Oracle will not continue granting the free use (and free advertising) of the Apache code, Oracle is way out of line with its claims and demands.

If I was Google I would look into ways of removing the copied code and start transitioning to a more open language (like C++) as this would greatly hurt Oracle (who would lose a MAJOR source of software developers) in addition to ending the law suit. It would also put a large company (Google) in a position to add the few features which Java has which are not native to C++.


By drycrust3 on 4/6/2012 3:55:47 AM , Rating: 2
One of the trio that formed the movie company MGM was famous for saying "A verbal contract is worth the paper it's written on". Praise, even by the CEO of a company, doesn't equate to a contract or licence.
As I said, as far as I can tell Java was released under the GNU General Public Licence 2.1, which isn't the same as the Apache licence.
If you look at the licence of Java it uses the term "program", it doesn't say "program or operating system". While this is probably because no one ever thought of using Java as an OS, the distinction remains.


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