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Oracle v. Google - Look What The Cat Dragged In (to Oracle)
Thursday, August 11 2011 @ 09:00 AM EDT

Okay, first things first. What does the expression "Look what the cat dragged in" mean in this context. Well, any cat owner (guilty) will tell you that outdoor cats (not guilty) will gladly catch, kill and deposit all sorts of formerly living creatures on their owner's doorstep. This can be a disgusting practice, but one you learn to live with if you have an outdoor cat. The expression is meant to convey an unhappy surprise.

In this instance the unhappy surprise is for Oracle and the missing Sun website. One of our readers (Keith) has been busy on Wayback seeing what he could find, and he has come up with quite a collection. We are not suggesting that all of these apply in the immediate case, but it is interesting to see the mixed message of Sun (pre-Oracle) and Oracle America (formerly Sun).

Sun's Press Release for Opening Java
(11/13/2006)http://web.archive.org/web/ 20080515151929/http:/www.sun.com/2006-1113/ feature/story.jsp:

"GNU/Linux distributors can add no-cost Java implementations to their distributions, while customers with stringent open-source requirements can deploy a free, reliable Java software stack on most GNU/Linux distributions."(emphasis added)

Here is an amazing blog post by Greg Papadopoulous (Sun's Chief Technology Officer)
http://web.archive.org/web/ 20080430075650/http:/blogs.sun.com/ gregp/entry/ are_software_patents_useful
in which he advocates for software patent reform and remarks that Sun would only use their own patents defensively. He also praises Richard Stallman and Larry Lessig. Since Java is released under the CDDL, take a look at this:

"Some of the most effective of these are "patent peace" grants, such as what >> we have done with CDDL: you get a grant to our patents as long as you follow the copyright license, including that you won't prosecute for any patents that you might have."

This passage is directly from his post as well (no emphasis added). Since Java is licensed similarly, I (Keith) assume this relates to Java as well as ZFS:

"Certainly, we (at Sun) feel like we have put some serious coin into developing things like ZFS and dtrace, which we have published under a FOSS (Free and Open-Source Software) license (CDDL for now), and for which we have applied for patents. We will *never* (yes, I said *never*) sue anyone who uses our ZFS codebase and follows the terms of the license: they publish their improvements, propagate the license, and not sue anyone else who uses the ZFS codebase. And look at the innovation not only with ZFS in OpenSolaris, but its adoption by Mac OS X and BSD.

But under what conditions would we enforce our patents? How would we feel if someone did a cleanroom version of ZFS and kept the resulting code proprietary?

We wouldn't feel good, to be sure. But I'd put the burden back on us (certainly as a large company) that if such a thing were to happen it was because we were failing to *continue to* innovate around our original code. Being sanguine about patent protection as an exclusive right would result in less innovation, not more.

Our licensing of our Java implementations under GPLv2 are a case-in-point. The early returns are that we are seeing renewed interest and vitality in the platform and a real acceleration of innovation --- both from us as well as others."

Here is another blog post by Greg Papadopoulous, where he explicitly states that states that the CDDL (which again, I (Kieth) believe Java is licensed under) will never be considered infringement either by copyright or patent.
http:// web.archive.org/ web/20080312184510/http://blogs.sun.com/ Gregp/ entry/my_views_on_open_source:

"Open software is fundamentally about developer freedom. We want developers to freely use any of the OpenSolaris code that we developed for their purposes without any fear of IP infringement of Sun: either patent or copyright.

We chose a license -- CDDL , an improvement of MPL -- that clearly and explicitly gives that freedom.

In fact, the license is MORE liberal in its IP license than even GPL, because it gives a clear patent license and doesn't demand the same viral propagation...

. . .

What have we done? We have given away enormous intellectual property rights (the code and about 1600 patents that might read upon it) to any developer who wishes to use our code. The only thing we ask in exchange --- as is the only thing that Stallman and Torvalds and every other open source developer have asked in exchange --- is that you honor the license. Period."

Here is a blog post from Mike Dillon (Legal Counsel for Sun), in which he specifies that Sun's patents would only be used defensively, and in the defense of others
http://web.archive.org/web/ 20080908120311/http://blogs.sun.com/ dillon/entry/ the_patent_arms_race#comments:

"Unlike some companies, we don't have a corporate goal for revenue derived from patents (and patent litigation). Instead, we invest in patents to support our customers and the communities in which we participate. This support can be in the form of a defensive response to an attack on a community or in the form of the assurance provided by the patent licensing provisions of the CDDL or GPLv3. In the end, it's about delivering innovation to our customers and communities."
If you are interested in looking for more such examples, consider the following:

Sun Company Blogs

http://web.archive.org/ web/20080416013436/http:/www.sun.com/ aboutsun/ media/blogs/index.jsp

Sun's Java page

http://web.archive.org/ web/20080517091130/http://www.sun.com/ opensource/java


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