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Oracle Sues Google For Infringing Java Patents 510

Bruce Perens writes "Oracle has brought a lawsuit against Google claiming that Google has infringed patents on the Java platform in Android. Scribd has a copy of the complaint. But there's a patent grant that should allow Google to use Java royalty-free. Has Google failed to meet the terms of the grant?"
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Oracle Sues Google For Infringing Java Patents

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  • by ciaran_o_riordan ( 662132 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @07:56AM (#33237368) Homepage

    There's more info on at:

    It's a publicly-editable wiki; feel free to help out.

    • 6,125,447 - Protection Domains To Provide Security In A Computer System
    • 6,192,476 - Controlling Access To A Resource
    • 5,966,702 - Method And Apparatus For Preprocessing And Packaging Class Files
    • 7,426,720 - System And Method For Dynamic Preloading Of Classes Through Memory Space Cloning Of A Master Runtime System Process
    • RE38,104 - Method And Apparatus For Resolving Data References In Generate Code
    • 6,910,205 - Interpreting Functions Utilizing A Hybrid Of Virtual And Native Machine Instructions
    • 6,061,520 - Method And System for Performing Static Initialization
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 13, 2010 @08:06AM (#33237430)
    "PJ: Well. It's for patent and copyright infringement. And guess who is representing Oracle Morrison & Foerster and Boies Schiller. I take it the latter have decided to learn from the masters. But this is really, really sad on so many levels. Also puzzling. Since Sun released Java under the GPL, how can anyone be sued for anything like this? The complaint doesn't make that clear, saying just that Google has no license, so for sure we'll be watching this litigation. So we'll have to wait until Google answers the complaint to get a clearer picture."
    Groklaw []
  • by tebee ( 1280900 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @08:08AM (#33237446)

    I wonder if this could be as big and as interesting(for the geek community) a fight as SCO v Novell

    There's an interesting comment on James Gosling's blog []

    "Not a big surprise. During the integration meetings between Sun and Oracle where we were being grilled about the patent situation between Sun and Google, we could see the Oracle lawyer's eyes sparkle"

    And yet more money get syphoned out of the IT industry into the lawyers pockets. Sigh

  • by ciaran_o_riordan ( 662132 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @08:09AM (#33237454) Homepage

    > The text of their lawsuit isn't available

    Yes it is. I put it here:

    Other info:

  • by cappp ( 1822388 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @08:19AM (#33237530)
    Thats the underlying idea of Silverglate's "Three Felonies a Day" []. I haven't read the book yet myself but the general points he makes in his discussion seems well founded. There's a youtube vid [] if you feel like a general overview - the Wall Street Journal [] has a brief summary as well.
  • by NotoriousDAN ( 588957 ) <dglynch@dglyn[ ]com ['ch.' in gap]> on Friday August 13, 2010 @08:19AM (#33237534)
    The summary and article both misuse the word "grant". The quoted text is not from a patent grant but rather a patent licence (or "license" in the US). A patent grant is something issued by the government to an inventor or his employer, not something issued by a patentee to anyone else.
  • by yyxx ( 1812612 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @08:25AM (#33237574)

    Of course, Google in using Java in the first place for android, is debatable, still

    Google isn't really "using Java"; they are using the Java language, but almost none of the implementation or libraries.

    Why did they choose the Java language? Because they needed a safe, statically typed, garbage collected language that people had experience with and that there were tools for. There is little else out there that fits the bill (C# wasn't an option at the time they started).

  • by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @08:25AM (#33237580) Journal

    the patents themselves mean pretty much nothing, (hello? Bilski scotus ruling?)and also because Java is licensed under the GPL. So unless google is breaking GPL (very unlikely), it'll be hard to get a clear picture of what is going on at all until this case moves forward.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @08:36AM (#33237688) Journal

    First, you seem to think the Bilski ruling said a lot more than it did: it did not invalidate software patents and only some of the justices involved even cast any doubt on the idea that they should be valid.

    The GPL is irrelevant in this case. Google's VM is not based on Sun's GPL'd code, it is an independent implementation (under a BSD-style license, as I recall). The GPL only protects derivatives of the GPL'd code from patent liability. It does not protect any other code.

    Perens seems to be unable to read the text that he quoted in his blog too. The grant there only covers complete Java 2 SE implementations. Android is not a complete J2SE implementation. But, hey, he got it on Slashdot and got paid for the ad impressions down the side...

  • Re:How ironic (Score:4, Informative)

    by mvdwege ( 243851 ) <> on Friday August 13, 2010 @08:44AM (#33237750) Homepage Journal

    No. Sun sued Microsoft because Microsoft was not implementing the JVM to spec, thereby violating the trademark agreement they had with Sun that allowed them to use the Java name for their JVM.


  • by cyberjessy ( 444290 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @08:47AM (#33237766) Homepage

    This is going to get down voted to hell. But anyway.

    Here is Miguel's opinion [] on this development.

    I hope the Mono hating will finally stop now.

  • Re:How ironic (Score:5, Informative)

    by RivieraKid ( 994682 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @08:53AM (#33237828)

    Actually, didn't Sun sue Microsoft for their usual Embrace, Extend, Extinguish tactics when they added proprietary extensions [] to their Java version and claimed it was still Java, thus violating Suns patents/trademarks/copyright/license terms/whatever?

    They didn't sue just because MS created their own runtime/JVM, they sued because MS distributed an incomplete Java implementation, and then passed it off as the Java, something which only Sun had the legal right to do.

  • Re:mutatis mutandis (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 13, 2010 @09:01AM (#33237892)

    See this thing here? I promise to let you use it. No charge. Go ahead, be my guest.

    Unless you make a billion dollars with it. Then my lawyer is going to look up "promise" in his big dictionary of wiggle-room words and sue the crap out of you.

    Tell your lawyer to also look up the word "estoppel" while he's at it. You know, the legal principle that says these kind of promises are binding.

  • by think_nix ( 1467471 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @09:11AM (#33238014)

    and also because Java is licensed under the GPL.

    "Java" isn't licensed under the GPL. A single Java implementation, derived from Sun's proprietary source code, is licensed under the GPL. Furthermore, the patent grant applies only if you meet specific compatibility conditions, which no implementation other than Sun's meets.

    Google implemented the Java language, not its libraries, and did it by themselves. Android (and Dalvik) are licensed under a mix of Apache and GPL, but that doesn't matter; the license under which a third party implementation is released is not relevant for the patent grant.

    Google rolled their own implementation and libraries for good reason: the full Java platform would have been far too obese for Android, and embedded versions of Java aren't free at all.

    There is effectively only one Java implementation, the one controlled by Sun/Oracle. Sun killed most of the others early on with legal threats, and the few remaining ones seem to fail to meet the conditions of Sun's public patent grant.

    Anybody who writes Java software is pretty much stuck with running it on Sun/Oracle's proprietary implementation or its nominally GPL derivative. You're joined at the hip with Oracle, in the bending over kind of sense.

    Almost but not quite , check out this interesting read: []

    So, Android uses the syntax of the Java platform (the Java “language”, if you wish, which is enough to make java programmers feel at home and IDEs to support the editing smoothly) and the java SE class library but not the Java bytecode or the Java virtual machine to execute it on the phone (and, note, Android’s implementation of the Java SE class library is, indeed, Apache Harmony’s!)

    The trick is that Google doesn’t claim that Android is a Java platform, although it can run some programs written with the Java language and against some derived version of the Java class library. Sun could prevent this if they had a patent on the standard class library, but they don’t and, even if they did, I strongly doubt it would be enforceable since Android doesn’t claim to be compatible (and in fact, could very well claim that their subset/superset is an innovation on the existing patent and challenge Sun’s position).

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @09:30AM (#33238174) Homepage

    To avoid being sued by Oracle or having the platform on which your software has been debugged sued by Oracle.

  • by makomk ( 752139 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @09:41AM (#33238350) Journal

    Except that, as it happens, that's not quite right. Sun's license only prohibits supersetting by adding functionality in the java.*, javax.*, and possibly com.sun.* class heirachies. So Google could've used Sun Java but added their own Android-specific mobile functionality in* that weren't compatible with Sun's and still benefitted from the patent license. (They already did this as well as creating the Dalvik VM.) If they used .Net, they'd have to do exactly the same since Microsoft doesn't have any openly-licensed mobile or GUI APIs; this happens to actually be more risky than doing the same with Java.

    The real killer for mobile and embedded applications is probably the prohibition on subsetting. You don't want to have to include the entire .Net or Java API on a device with limited RAM...

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @09:55AM (#33238624) Homepage

    Patent law creates the tort of patent infringement, granting patent owners the right to sue those who practice their inventions without permission the right to sue for the tort of patent infringement. No violation of law is involved. If there were it would be the government taking the infringer to court, not the patent owner.

  • Re:Sun is to blame (Score:3, Informative)

    by VGPowerlord ( 621254 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @10:09AM (#33238906)

    It was Sun who never submitted Java to ISO or ANSI, it was Sun who created a dual-licensed Java, it was Sun who filed hundreds of patents on Java-related technologies, and it was Sun who created the limited patent grant under conditions that nobody could meet.

    Actually, they were going to submit to ISO... but then the complaints suddenly started coming in about being a standard from a single company. One of said complaints was from Microsoft, naturally.

    Funny how MS doesn't have that same problem when it's their standard (OOXML).

    Sun submitted it to ECMA instead. Then later withdrew it [] after realizing that Microsoft could use this to add things [] to the Java specification (this was after the lawsuit).

    Of course, Microsoft's goals here were probably to get Sun to do exactly that, as less than a year later, they C# [] (and by extension the .NET framework).

  • by Troy Roberts ( 4682 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @10:31AM (#33239384)

    Oracle is also alleging the Google violated its copyrights. So, if that is true (though I doubt it), it would invalidate the patent grant.

  • by Surt ( 22457 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @10:47AM (#33239806) Homepage Journal

    An air? He is the textbook megalomaniac.

  • What follows is a short association to each patent where I already heard of it (so like 10 minutes / patent .. something the patent office obviously wasn't able to do .. )

    The legal standard for denying a patent application isn't "I totally heard of something like this, here's a mention of something that may possibly be related, but I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine."
    The legal standard is that:
    (i) a claim is anticipated under 35 USC 102 if each and every limitation as set forth in the claim appears, either explicitly or inherently, in a single prior art reference; or
    (ii) a claim is obvious under 35 USC 103 if a combination of prior art references teach or suggest each and every limitation as set forth in the claim.

    The reason it takes longer than 10 minutes is you have to through every word of each claim and find it in the prior art.

    So, looking at your first one:

    -- cut 6,125,447 / 1997 -- 1. A method for providing security, the method comprising the steps of: establishing one or more protection domains, wherein a protection domain is associated with zero or more permissions; establishing an association between said one or more protection domains and one or more classes of one or more objects; and determining whether an action requested by a particular object is permitted based on said association between said one or more protection domains and said one or more classes. -- end cut -- -> This is C++ private / protected -- cut evidence 1983 -- C++ (pronounced see plus plus) is a statically typed, free-form, multi-paradigm, compiled, general-purpose programming language. It is regarded as a "middle-level" language, as it comprises a combination of both high-level and low-level language features.[2] It was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup starting in 1979 at Bell Labs as an enhancement to the C programming language and originally named C with Classes. It was renamed C++ in 1983.[3] -- end cut --

    I don't see "protection domains" in your quote, nor do I see each protection domain associated with "zero or more permissions". I also don't see any associations between those protection domains and classes. I also don't see any determinations based on the associations.
    If your answer is "but that's how C++ works," that's fine, but you have to actually show each and every element in the claim in the reference... Not just mention that the reference exists. That's why it takes more than 10 minutes.

  • by ciaran_o_riordan ( 662132 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @10:59AM (#33240080) Homepage

    Reading a bit further, I don't think this is relevant. Here's the only mention of patents, and it's saying there's *no* grant:

    B. Residual Rights. If You examine the Technology after accepting this License and remember anything about it later, You are not "tainted" in a way that would prevent You from creating or contributing to an independent implementation, but this License grants You no rights to Sun's copyrights or patents for use in such an implementation.

    Am I missing anything?

  • by azmodean+1 ( 1328653 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @11:07AM (#33240238)

    tl;dr summary since I got pretty long-winded: The problem is that Java was never open in the first place. Users of FOSS need to learn to decide for themselves when technologies aren't really open, and avoid using them.

    It will be hard to find out whether Oracle planned this kind of aggression when buying Sun, but it can certainly be stated that the free software/open source community hasn't benefited from the acquisition.

    There's a number of important questions that Oracle's patent attack raises:

    * Did Oracle try to resolve this amicably with Google (by way of a license deal) or is Oracle pursuing purely destructive objectives?

    Does this really matter? It would have been good for PR, but is anyone really under the illusion that Oracle wants to play nice with anyone? Personally I'd rather companies make it clear when they intend to swing around the "government-sanctioned monopolist hammer" instead of pretending that they're really quite reasonable, but that you do owe them quite a bit of money for using that technology they insisted was really open. Regarding PR, this kind of activity does put companies in my, "prone to dangerous legal demands" category, but frankly, Sun and Oracle were already both in that category.

    * Will Google solve this patent problem in a way that the entire Android ecosystem (including the makers of Android-based phones and the authors of Android apps) will be reassured, or will Google only take care of its own risk?

    Valid and important question, but as a non-Android and non-Java developer, I'm not interested in the answer.

    * Is Java less of an open standard now than C#? I don't really buy the argument that Oracle may only be suing because of deviations from the standards definition. This kind of patent attack is evil no matter whether Google adhere to certain specififcations or not.

    I wouldn't say Java is "less" open than C#. I do and always have put them in the same boat, which is "IP minefield, never develop in these environments." Also, this action changed NOTHING. Java has ALWAYS been an IP minefield just as much as C#, it's just that Sun managed to fool quite a few more people about it than Microsoft could. The only good patents are patents that are effectively neutered by PERMISSIVE patent grants. Sun's patent grant has always been a joke.

    * Isn't this now the ultimate proof that the Open Invention Network doesn't really protect the Linux ecosystem from patent attacks? This is case of one OIN licensee (Oracle) suing another (Google).

    Another interesting question, OIN's license only grants acces to patents specifically related to the Linux System [] as defined by OIN. After a quick look through the listing, the Java SDK itself doesn't seem to be there. There are several components that rely on Java (ant, an eclipse java compiler, a gcc Java runtime), but if those packages don't exercise the patents in question, then Oracle is acting exactly as the OIN is designed to allow them to act.

    I don't see this as a failing of OIN. The way I see it, the fact that the Java SDK isn't considered a part of the "Linux System" by OIN means that Oracle doesn't consider Java to be open, which means to me that I don't want to use or rely on Java. It's nice for PR to say things like, "OIN protects licensees from patent threats related to Linux", but if you're going to be doing business based on that assurance, you should definitely be checking the definitions and making sure that what you think is covered is actually covered.

    After putting in a bit more thought before posting, I have to say that while my previous comments are valid, your point is also valid. The "Linux Ecosystem", a more broadly defined set of software than the quite narrowly-defined "Linux System" according to OIN, is not at all fully covered

  • by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @01:08PM (#33242328) Homepage

    Considering that there is very much PRIOR ART [], that dates back to the 1966 and again in the early 70's on that act in question , I don't think that what Oracle's doing is a wise move on their part. They're taking on someone that can actually afford to litigate that position and win- with the end result of Oracle eating the expense of the lawsuit and losing a handful of patents in their portfolio.

    I can't imagine what's going through Ellison's mind right now that he'd play this move this way.

  • by innocent_white_lamb ( 151825 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @02:29PM (#33243726)

    running of code in a bytecode virtual-machine
    The first thing that springs to my mind when I read those words is the Infocom Z-Machine [], which has been around since 1979 and I'm sure there are examples of lots of stuff like it even earlier than that.
    In other words, this virtual machine stuff has been around and been well-known for quite a while.
    Is this another 1-click [] style patent fight?

  • Re:Sun is to blame (Score:3, Informative)

    by yyxx ( 1812612 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @05:51PM (#33246390)

    Not true at all. For example, that's exactly what Apache Harmony is: a clean room implementation that meets all the conditions.

    Stop lying. Apache Harmony does not meet the conditions. []

    The goal of the patent grant was clearly to avoid fragmentation.

    No, the goal of Sun's patent and licensing shenanigans was to gain control of key APIs in the industry. "Fragmentation" was merely a smokescreen.

  • Re:Sun is to blame (Score:3, Informative)

    by yyxx ( 1812612 ) on Friday August 13, 2010 @08:51PM (#33247774)

    Well, it's not about whether Sun was good or evil, it's about having open source developers avoid being so gullible in the future. Companies fail and you can't rely on their supposed good will or track record. What matters is the licenses and patent situation.

  • Re:Sun is to blame (Score:3, Informative)

    by yyxx ( 1812612 ) on Saturday August 14, 2010 @11:45AM (#33250928)

    Well, SUN is good or evil is the subject of this thread BTW.

    Who cares? Sun is dead. We need to make sure this doesn't happen again.

    I think that GPL is the best option, but it's my opinion.

    And that's the problem: the GPL is not sufficient. Dual-licensing, lack of a clear patent grant, breaking promises, and requiring copyright assignment are red flags.

Someone is unenthusiastic about your work.