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Field of use restrictions hidden in *confidential* TCK license | 81 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Field of use restrictions hidden in *confidential* TCK license
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 03 2012 @ 02:02 PM EDT
@Ian,
Apache did not join the JCP right away, but joined after
the JCP's JSPA (Java Specification Participation
Agreement, aka bylaws) was revised to permit independent
implementations under FRAND (Fair, Reasonable, and Non-
Discriminatory) licensing terms.

Apache then started working on Harmony and eventually
sought to test it to prove compatibility, which is required
by the JSPA to call Harmony "Java". You could argue also
that, according to the JSPA, passing the compatibility test
is required for Apache to benefit from grants to
intellectual property licenses (IE patents, copyrights and
trademarks) that come with being called "Java".

The tests are contained in a TCK (Technology Compatibility
Kit, IIRC, not a Test Compatibility Kit.) But before you
can run the tests, you have to obtain a license to the
tests themselves. This is the "TCK license" people talk
of.

It turns out that the TCK license is NOT published and is
confidential. Apache has only spoken around the terms that
contain the field-of-use restrictions that prevent what is
tested from being used in certain areas, namely, that which
is tested cannot be used in netbooks, kiosks, phones, and
embedded devices, AFAIK.

I think most members of the JCP Executive Committee feel
that what Sun did was unfair. I think it is fair to say
that Sun voluntarily chose to make Java specifications
open in exchange for industry acceptance. Most, if not all
of the EC did not recognize that the process was
sufficiently full of holes that would provide enough
handholds for Sun (or in this case its successor Oracle)
to pull it back from "open" status.

Nobody has sued Sun/Oracle over this because (a) they do not
have resources (Apache) or (b) the cost for any one party to
do so would be huge compared to the cost of maintaining the
status quo. Remember that practically all the corporate JCP
members are ALSO Oracle licensees (for Java licenses.)
Rebellion through resignation from the JCP is not an option
for corporate members who prefer some limited control over
no control at all and would cause PR problems. In fact,
there is no great clamoring for EC seats by prospective
corporate members and a number of corporate Java ME EC
members have found little reason to continue to participate,
or are quietly resigning or are letting their terms expire.

This case has revealed much previously confidential
information that paints a clear picture of what all parties
were doing in the JCP space that led up to this debacle.
Once the smoke clears I hope that a reporter of NY Times
caliber conducts a bunch of interviews and puts all the
pieces together illustrating the strong corporate
undercurrent that seems to have drive every action in the
story of Java. Then that should become a textbook in a
required class for undergrad university CS students on
licensing, IP, and its ramifications.

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

  • Thanks - Authored by: Ian Al on Friday, May 04 2012 @ 03:32 AM EDT
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