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FSF: Nothing Can Excuse Oracle's Patent Aggression
Thursday, September 09 2010 @ 11:00 AM EDT

FSF has issued a statement about Oracle's patent infringement lawsuit against Google over Android. While Google could have avoided all this by using the GPL'd IcedTea and they have yet to take a stand against software patents, still nothing, FSF writes, can excuse Oracle's patent aggression. "Oracle is wrong to use its patents to attack Android," FSF concludes.

They have a number of suggestions on how they think you can help, including searching for prior art. The result of all this, unless Oracle changes course, will be, FSF points out, that everyone will dump Java:

Programmers will justifiably steer clear of Java when they stand to be sued if they use it in some way that Oracle doesn't like. One of the great benefits of free software is that it allows programs to be combined in ways that none of the original developers would've anticipated, to create something new and exciting. Oracle is signaling to the world that they intend to limit everyone's ability to do this with Java, and that's unjustifiable.
If you have prior art, you can place it here or on the End Software Patents wiki, as they suggest, or both.

Update: I really should add that I don't necessarily endorse anything on the wiki personally. I don't think they have understood the tech, actually, oddly enough, and we're working on an article to try to explain it. I don't think, after researching it, that using the GPL code would have been protective for Google, and that has to do with the mobile version of Java. That's what I will try to explain, or rather have someone who does understand it explain it. Meanwhile, I knew you'd want to know about the FSF statement.

Here's the complete statement, posted by Brett Smith:

*************************************

FSF responds to Oracle v. Google and the threat of software patents

As you likely heard on any number of news sites, Oracle has filed suit against Google, claiming that Android infringes some of its Java-related copyrights and patents. Too little information is available about the copyright infringement claim to say much about it yet; we expect we'll learn more as the case proceeds. But nobody deserves to be the victim of software patent aggression, and Oracle is wrong to use its patents to attack Android.

Though it took longer than we would've liked, Sun Microsystems ultimately did the right thing by the free software community when it released Java under the GPL in 2006. We welcomed that news when it was announced; Java had long been a popular programming language, and we were hopeful that the change would make it a language with first-class support in the free software community.

Now Oracle's lawsuit threatens to undo all the good will that has been built up in the years since. Programmers will justifiably steer clear of Java when they stand to be sued if they use it in some way that Oracle doesn't like. One of the great benefits of free software is that it allows programs to be combined in ways that none of the original developers would've anticipated, to create something new and exciting. Oracle is signaling to the world that they intend to limit everyone's ability to do this with Java, and that's unjustifiable.

Unfortunately, Google didn't seem particularly concerned about this problem until after the suit was filed. The company still has not taken any clear position or action against software patents. And they could have avoided all this by building Android on top of IcedTea, a GPL-covered Java implementation based on Sun's original code, instead of an independent implementation under the Apache License. The GPL is designed to protect everyone's freedom—from each individual user up to the largest corporations—and it could've provided a strong defense against Oracle's attacks. It's sad to see that Google apparently shunned those protections in order to make proprietary software development easier on Android.

But none of that excuses Oracle's behavior. An aggressive infringement suit over software patents is a clear attack against someone's freedom to use, share, modify, and redistribute software—freedoms that everyone should always have. Oracle now seeks to take these rights away, not just from Google, but from all Android users.

Ultimately, the decision about how to respond rests primarily with Google; they're the party named as the defendant in the suit. The FSF encourages Google to fight Oracle's claims, and take a principled stand against all software patents. How you can help:

  • We are collecting information about the case, including information about prior art that could be used to attack the patents, on the End Software Patents wiki. This could be useful not only for Google's case, but also for other parties that Oracle might sue in the future. If you have new information to add to that page, we'd be happy to have your contribution.

  • Oracle was previously opposed to software patents. That the company is now using patents as its primary weapon to attack competitors is a stunning reversal of that position. Write to Larry Ellison and respectfully ask him why Oracle is attacking free software with software patents. You can remind him about the statements Oracle made in 1994, like this one:
    Patent law provides to inventors an exclusive right to new technology in return for publication of the technology. This is not appropriate for industries such as software development in which innovations occur rapidly, can be made without a substantial capital investment, and tend to be creative combinations of previously-known techniques.
    Oracle once claimed that it only sought software patents for defensive purposes. Now it is using them to proactively attack free software. It's not the first company to make this about-face, and unfortunately it probably won't be the last. Today Google claims they need software patents for defensive purposes, but the reality is that programmers will only truly be safe from software patents when everybody is forced to disarm. Join the End Software Patents mailing list to keep up-to-date on software patent news and what you can do to help.

  


FSF: Nothing Can Excuse Oracle's Patent Aggression | 221 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Off Topic Thread
Authored by: Marc Mengel on Thursday, September 09 2010 @ 11:12 AM EDT

Anything on topic is off topic here...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here
Authored by: Marc Mengel on Thursday, September 09 2010 @ 11:13 AM EDT

Remember to put the correction (i.e. "thsi -> this") in the
subject.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Newspicks discussion here
Authored by: Marc Mengel on Thursday, September 09 2010 @ 11:14 AM EDT

Mention the newspick please in the subject

[ Reply to This | # ]

Of course there is an excuse: Money
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 09 2010 @ 11:21 AM EDT
This is business.

Oracle owns patents.

It thinks the patents are being violated by Google.

It sues Google to protect its patents.

Case closed.

No bleeding heart excuses. Its simply business. Big business.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Everyone will dump Java?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 09 2010 @ 11:39 AM EDT

Dump Java for what? PHP? .NET? Google's new programing language?? Seriously,
get a life.

No one is going to dump Java. If you do enterprise development you are not
suddenly going to switch platforms midstream because Oracle is suing Google. No
business is going to do that.

Stop the hyperbole.

Oracle is protecting it's intellectual property. Period.

What Oracle is doing is no different than when Sun MicroSystems sued Microsoft
back in the late '90s over Java.

It's the same thing.

Lest we not forget Sun MicroSystems was talking to Google about Android long
before Oracle bought them. This is just a continuation.

In the end it's about one big fat company trying to get a license deal from
another big fat company. That's all.


[ Reply to This | # ]

The FSF does not understand Android
Authored by: Ian Al on Thursday, September 09 2010 @ 11:54 AM EDT
And they could have avoided all this by building Android on top of IcedTea, a GPL-covered Java implementation based on Sun's original code, instead of an independent implementation under the Apache License.
Everything they say about software patents and the use of software patents to attack competitors is true. They are right to point to the about-face of policy. They are right to say that the coffee-pot has been poisoned in a way that can never be recovered.

They are wrong about Android. IcedTea may well be a Java implementation, but Android is not. Android must have its multiple virtual machines (VM) to meet its performance and security goals. It does not need Oracle USA's security methods as used in the Java JVM and does not use the related patents. Android does not and cannot run Java code. Java source code must be translated in order to run in Android.
The Dalvik VM executes files in the Dalvik Executable (.dex) format which is optimized for minimal memory footprint. The VM is register-based, and runs classes compiled by a Java language compiler that have been transformed into the .dex format by the included "dx" tool,"
The FSF are being unhelpful by suggesting that the use of Java is involved in Android and they should do more research before coming up with such a misleading statement.

---
Regards
Ian Al
SCOG, what ever happened to them? Whatever, it was less than they deserve.

[ Reply to This | # ]

FSF: Nothing Can Excuse Oracle's Patent Aggression
Authored by: jsusanka on Thursday, September 09 2010 @ 12:04 PM EDT
the GPL is a GREAT license.

anything I write is GPL.

that is the only way to go if you want your software to live on after after you
pass from this earth.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Java dies? Maybe it's not so bad after all..
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 09 2010 @ 01:56 PM EDT
Java needed to die a long time ago.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Not binding and expired, but:
Authored by: szh on Thursday, September 09 2010 @ 02:01 PM EDT
http://www.bustpatents.com/articles/oracle.htm

Jan. 26-27, 1994

ORACLE CORPORATION PATENT POLICY
Patent and Trademark Office Software Patent Hearings

Oracle Corporation opposes the patentability of software. The Company
believes that existing copyright law and available trade secret protections,
as opposed to patent law, are better suited to protecting computer software
developments.

Patent law provides to inventors an exclusive right to new technology
in return for publication of the technology. This is not appropriate for
industries such as software development in which innovations occur rapidly,
can be made without a substantial capital investment, and tend to be creative
combinations of previously-known techniques.

Even if patent law were appropriate for protection of software, due to the
large volume of recently-granted software patents and the rising number of new
applications, the current patent process would continue to be troublesome for
the software industry. Software patent examinations are hindered by the
limited capability of searching prior art, by the turnover rate among
examiners in the Patent and Trademark Office, and by the confusion surrounding
novelty and innovation in the software arena. The problem is exacerbated by
varying international patent laws, which both raise the cost and confuse the
issue of patent protection.

Unfortunately, as a defensive strategy, Oracle has been forced to protect
itself by selectively applying for patents which will present the best
opportunities for cross-licensing between Oracle and other companies who may
allege patent infringement.

...

P.S.
1995 June 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Oracle Systems Corporation (Nasdaq: ORCL ORCL Oracle
(stock symbol) ) today announced the merger of Oracle Corporation into Oracle
Systems Corporation. This transaction eliminates the holding company structure
and streamlines the operating company, Oracle Corporation, with the public
holding company, Oracle Systems Corporation. As part of the merger, Oracle
Systems Corporation is renamed Oracle Corporation and is the surviving entity
incorporated as a Delaware corporation.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Oh, please...
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 09 2010 @ 02:22 PM EDT
The GPL is designed to protect everyone's freedom—from each individual user up to the largest corporations—and it could've provided a strong defense against Oracle's attacks. It's sad to see that Google apparently shunned those protections in order to make proprietary software development easier on Android.

If IcedTea had contained the functionality Google wanted, Google would probably have used it and saved a lot of development time. As others have pointed out, Dalvik isn't a Java implementation.

If Google took IcedTea and added new functionality that Oracle thought infringed their patents, then the GPL is irrelevant, because the patent license that "comes with" the GPL only covers the GPL'd work. Even GPL 3 excludes "claims that would be infringed only as a consequence of further modification of the contributor version."

If Google had used the GPL for Dalvik then Oracle could still sue, because only Oracle are entitled to place their own IP under the GPL.

For that matter, if Google had used IcedTea, Oracle could have sued them anyway because, as we know from SCO, you don't actually need a remotely plausible case to tie up your competitors in expensive litigation for the next decade. Has the new patent wording of GPL3 actually been tested in court yet?

GPL is great, but it can't magic the patent system better and its pretty irrelevant to this case.

This isn't the FSF condemning software patents - this is the FSF spreading their own FUD against any license that isn't the GPL. Shame.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Are you sure? - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 09 2010 @ 03:41 PM EDT
    • Are you sure? - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, September 12 2010 @ 08:05 AM EDT
Does anyone else worry about the FSF?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 09 2010 @ 02:31 PM EDT
If they keep weighing in like this, then sooner or later they'll tick off the
wrong 800lb gorilla, and then some hollow-eyed lawyer-assassin is going to be
tasked with destroying them, using any means necessary.

No? Well, imagine if SCO had had patents. Now imagine Oracle turning into
nuSCO.

Gives me pause for thought, that does.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Do not speak up! - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 09 2010 @ 03:48 PM EDT
FSF: Nothing Can Excuse Oracle's Patent Aggression
Authored by: eggplant37 on Thursday, September 09 2010 @ 02:39 PM EDT
So, taking the slippery slope of Oracle's argument, how much longer do I have
before I have to find replacements for:

Squirrelmail -- Uses MySQL database
myPHPadmin -- MySQL database front end
OpenOffice.org -- Oracle has plastered their name all over it now. Say goodbye,
OpenOffice.org, it was good to know ye.

These are just a couple quick examples of stuff that will break if Oracle keeps
on with their nonsense. I think the best thing to do here is to do what we had
to with Microsoft, engineer around them to show them how insignificant their
products really can be given time, and demand nothing but them living up to
their words, same as any other global citizen.
Personally, I'd rather drop Oracle and its products like a hot rock, but
thankfully I'm not in that position yet. I'm free to choose anything other than
Oracle anyway if this stuff continues, though. I'd hope that anyone with sense
would follow the lead here.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What happens if Google merges Dalvik with a fork of IcedTea or OpenJDK?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 09 2010 @ 02:53 PM EDT
As far as I understand, both OpenJDK and IcedTea are implicitly protected from
Oracle's patent threats, since OpenJDK is GPL2 licensed and was distributed by
Sun (and seems to still be distributed by Oracle), and IcedTea is based on
OpenJDK.
So, what would happen if Google merged Dalvik into a forked IcedTea or OpenJDK?
Would the resulting product be protected from any future, potential Oracle
injunctions? If so, it might be worthy for Google to look at it, if only as a
way to keep Oracle from being able to ask for an injunction.

[ Reply to This | # ]

FSF: Nothing Can Excuse Oracle's Patent Aggression
Authored by: jacks4u on Thursday, September 09 2010 @ 03:19 PM EDT
So, what? Oracle sees that Java's thoroughly entrenched, mostly due to Sun's
lack of prosecution of it's IP, and decides to prosecute for a cash cow? doesn't
latches or something prevent them from asserting now, what their predecessor in
interest (SUN), failed to prosecute?

[ Reply to This | # ]

FSF: Nothing Can Excuse Oracle's Patent Aggression
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 09 2010 @ 09:29 PM EDT
Rhetorical Question: Why is Android being sued ..Besides "big
business" reasons? Is there an idealogical reason?

Perhaps because tons of Applets are being written in the Java Programming
Language right this moment BUT they can't be run on anyones [Java] Virtual
Machine or Open Source or otherwise.. it takes specifically an Android Device
to run those nifty little programs, handy and Open Source though they may be.

They WERE NOT designed to be enjoyed by the Java Community at large, they were
designed to be enjoyed by the many elites who have purchased the Andriod Brand,
fantastic as it may be.

Remember programmer folks, Java was invented in the very first place so that
anything created by the language could be run on any [Java] Virtual Machine,
PERIOD, as long as it has the hardware capitulates to run it then rest assured
the BRAND of device would play ZERO IMPORTANCE to its INTEROPERABILITY, any
Java Program would run on any device regardless of whether it was a Microsoft
Device ..or God Forbid I say this, An Open Source ANDROID DEVICE, as fantastic a
product as that device as. [Bowing down in honor of the most fantastic phone on
the marketplace today]

Remember when Microsoft decided that they would "clone" Java so that
could programmers could then essentially write Java Programming Language
programs.... but they would ONLY run on Microsoft Operating Systems??? I
believe they called it "J" [the next best thing since C and C++
supposedly]. Well, they got sued and the product was changed. Now there's C#.

Hey Google, are you trying to use the Java Language but only allowing Android
users to enjoy it? That's WRONG. Why not use "J" or "C#"
to do it instead?

We wouldn't have Java today if they didn't stand up for their idealogical
principles. The only thing is that Oracle should not benefit, the Java Family,
its users should.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What's on the wiki
Authored by: ciaran on Friday, September 10 2010 @ 01:09 AM EDT
I've reviewed the Oracle v. Google page on the wiki and removed some stuff that
was off topic. (For example, possible motivations of Oracle or Google, or
whether either is hypocritical, are off topic for en.swpat.org - we're not
interested in whether patent attacks make business sense or not.)

I've moved the comparison of Java and Mono all to its own page, and trimmed off
topic stuff from there too.

If there are any other dubious parts, I'll review them if I know where they
are.

A new logo has long been on the todo list. Something with a big "public
wiki" written across it, stamp-style, to make it clear that the pages
shouldn't be taken as representing the views of ESP or any other organisation.
(Although I do personally stand behind the overall quality of the wiki which I
think is very high.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Google should have used either Python or Ruby
Authored by: TiddlyPom on Friday, September 10 2010 @ 05:22 AM EDT
Both Python and Ruby are powerful languages which efficient VMs which can run pretty well on embedded systems. Yes, someone has already ported JRuby (Ruby coded in Java) to Dalvik - see but I have been looking at using the Androi d NDK port CRuby to Android. Same thoughts about Jython (Python coded in Java) which does run on Dalvik and porting CPython to Android (although someone has gone some way towards this here).
Python is heavily utilized at Google so would be a good match for Android. If wxEmbedded was ported to Android/Python then tools like wxGlade or Boa Constructor could be used for Android development.

Programming Nirvana (to me) would be CPython applications using wxEmbedded (with native Python-to-C bindings) on Android with extra Python libraries/hooks for other Android specific events and functionality.

---
Microsoft Software is expensive, bloated, bug-ridden and unnecessary.
Use Open Source Software instead.

[ Reply to This | # ]

aalready dumped a java game project
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 10 2010 @ 06:48 PM EDT
and i will never bother with it again.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Android dx tool: Java Class Stealer
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 13 2010 @ 02:07 AM EDT
Dalvik may not be a jvm but it relies on java for its framework support. We are not talking about writing java code and then compiling under dalvik as many have suggested here. From DalvikVM.com:

It is optimized for low memory requirements, and is designed to allow multiple VM instances to run at once, relying on the underlying operating system for process isolation, memory management and threading support. Dalvik is often referred to as a Java Virtual Machine, but this is not strictly accurate, as the bytecode on which it operates is not Java bytecode. Instead, a tool named dx, included in the Android SDK, transforms the Java Class files of Java classes compiled by a regular Java compiler into another class file format (the .dex format).

Note how it says classes compiled by a reqular java compiler. So essentially, they can steal any compiled class file from the java framework and own it as a .dex file. Sounds like copyright violation, DMCA reverse engineering, as well as outright theft of someone else's work. Maybe all the zealots should stop and think about Google's recent behaviour. Looks to me like they have stopped innovating and begun acting more like Microsoft. For example, they cozy up to Apple and next thing you know cellphones and tablets are new products. App and music stores are services. What happened to the Google of old that was an incubator of new beta ideas?

[ Reply to This | # ]

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