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Verdict for Google in Oracle's patent infringement case (groklaw.net)
723 points by grellas on May 23, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 165 comments

A few thoughts on this:

Google had pushed for a fall trial date at the earliest but Oracle argued vigorously (and successfully) for an immediate date on grounds that the case was ready with Google only playing for time. To induce the judge to give it an early trial date, Oracle offered to dismiss with prejudice all patents that had been rejected in a final office action by the USPTO subject to reinstatement in the event the PTO reversed itself prior to the start of trial. Trial started on April 16 and, lo and behold, the PTO did reverse itself concerning one significant patent (the '702 patent) such that Oracle would normally have been able to pursue its claims for infringement based on that patent. However, it did so a few days after the trial had started. As a result, that claim wound up being finally dismissed for purposes of this lawsuit. Oracle tried to renege and pushed the judge to reinstate the claim but the judge said no (decision here: (http://www.scribd.com/doc/91307218/Oracle-denied-using-reviv...).

Thus, Oracle screwed itself as a result of having charged full speed with tomahawk swinging wildly in the air. In pushing aggressively for tactical advantage, it essentially threw away the one patent claim that had any potential for viability (the two patent claims on which it lost at trial were in fact relatively weak, with one of the two patents about to go down before the USPTO and set in any event to expire in December, among other things).

Oracle now finds itself in a deep hole. It won a few crumbs in the copyright phase and got skunked on the patent phase. More copyright drama to follow as the judge rules on API copyrightability. Oracle might win on that issue, as it is a tricky one under Ninth Circuit law (see http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3980642), but it then faces a retrial in which the judge would give much more refined instructions on what it means to infringe the SSO of the Java APIs than he gave in the first trial - between that and the (I think, formidable) fair use defense that Google has, it is strictly an uphill fight for Oracle from here on out. (By the way, Google has done a masterful job of arguing the issue of why APIs should not be copyrightable and, for those inclined to read through a superb legal brief on the issues, here it is: http://www.groklaw.net/pdf3/OraGoogle-1137.pdf).

Oracle may yet rally if a lot of things go its way. I wouldn't bet on it though. Much more likely, in my view, is that the case becomes a testament to what happens when a party makes a high-stakes opportunistic legal grab that goes badly awry. What Larry Ellison set out to justify as Oracle's vindication has instead become Oracle's folly.

The judge has called for briefing after briefing on the copyright status of APIs and has taken quite a bit longer to work on those than most other parts of this lawsuit.

I assume this bodes well for Google, given that you've said the precedents are difficult to manage if one wants APIs not to be copyrightable.

In your view, what's the best ruling we could hope for? What are the judge's options (if any) if he thinks that the precedents in his circuit are out of line with those everywhere else? Does all of that have to be decided at a higher level? Or is there some fine line he can walk to distinguish the other cases from this case?

Best case: judge concludes that the 37 APA packages are purely functional and hence not protected by copyright. Ninth Circuit precedents (in my view) preclude him from doing this as a categorical imperative ("all APIs are inherently unprotectible by copyright") but nothing prevents the judge from saying, in effect, that the experts are in essential agreement that the "structure, sequence, and organization" of these APIs plays a purely functional role (to facilitate calls to an underlying black box that has the implementing code) and is therefore merely a method or system of operation under 17 U.S.C. sec. 102(b) (meaning, Congress has denied copyright protection to such elements of a software program even if it otherwise constitutes a form of original expression). Such a ruling would be entirely consistent with Lotus v. Borland (a First Circuit case affirmed by a divided Supreme Court) but would depend heavily on the judge's assessment of the factual evidence (i.e., what the experts testified about how the APIs work within the Java context) and not on categorical pronouncements about APIs generally. In my view, the Ninth Circuit precedents would block a generalized ruling but not a fact-specific one. That is why the judge had to kick down the road so often. He had to wait until all the evidence was in to make a final assessment. Because the ruling would be fact-specific, it would not be an all-out victory for interoperability but it would still be very strong.

If the judge cannot reach such factual conclusions from the evidence, then he is left with concluding that the SSO of the APIs as represented in Java do have expressive elements and are hence protected by copyright. This would mean a retrial with instructions given to the jury much as before and with a heavy fight over fair use.

Of course, in the end, who really knows. It is clear that the judge has done extensive homework on this and that is perhaps the best sign that the decision will be well thought out. Only time will tell.

There are precedents for APIs being protectable by copyright? :( Which ninth circuit cases are you referring to?

No, there are no Ninth Circuit precedents saying APIs are protectible by copyright. I am referring to the Johnson Controls line of cases that specify that software is to be analyzed piece-by-piece (including its "structure, sequence, and organization" - a judge-invented doctrine) in determining which pieces are expressive and which are functional. This line of cases makes it virtually impossible for a trial judge in this circuit to conclude as a matter of law that any specific element (such as the menu structure in Lotus v. Borland) is categorically excluded from copyright protection as falling within 17 U.S.C. sec. 102(b) (which excludes ideas, systems and methods of operation, etc. from copyright protection). Since SSO obviously has expressive elements to it, it also virtually forced the judge to instruct the jury that the SSO for the APIs could be infringed if they found that such expressive elements existed (a point which Oracle argued vigorously, e.g., by emphasizing all the creative choices an API developer makes in designing the API structure).

Thus, Oracle screwed itself as a result of having charged full speed with tomahawk swinging wildly in the air.

This puts me in mind of when you were telling me that some people get addicted to litigation to the point of losing interest in product development.

Larry Ellison (with David Boies as his lawyer) has also recently won a brawl of a lawsuit over a yacht race. They may have made Larry over confident.

As for the yacht race lawsuit, Larry was effectively able to rest control of the most prestigious yacht race in the world via the court room when he couldn't on the water. The lawsuit dragged on for several years but ultimately it is setup Larry winning the championship and bringing it to San Fransico.


Sorry for the stupid question that ignores the rest of your excellent summary:

"dismiss with prejudice"

What does 'with prejudice' imply here? I've seen this used many times in various government/legal contexts ('cancelled without prejudice') etc...

What does the 'with/without prejudice' part mean?

It means that the judgment is final and the case cannot be reopened.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prejudice_%28law%29

"Dismissed with prejudice" means the matter isn't eligible to be brought before the court again (due to overwhelming bogosity or other such factors).

In theory, doesn't Oracle still retain the right to sue other companies (i.e. not Google) over the '702 patent?

In practice, I don't know how that would work out for them, but they might be able to squeeze some cash out of Android OEMs the way Microsoft does. Of course, having lost on patents in this case weakens their bargaining position substantially.

I guess you could consider that another way Oracle screwed themselves by charging full speed ahead.

Microsoft played this a lot smarter, as they went for weaker players. But monetizing patents for companies that are not patent trolls is a dangerous thing to do and the window of opportunity doesn't stay open forever.

Sooner or later, somebody is going to fight Microsoft in a court of law, with counterclaims of patent infringement by Microsoft. And now that Google has grown teeth with the Motorola acquisition and with this apparent victory against Oracle, I'm seeing Android OEMs starting to fight back.

On appeal Oracle will argue that Alsup erred in law in not reinstating the '702 patent. It's unsatisfying to win on a tactical rather than a substantive issue.

Groklaw is the best source on the web for information on this topic.

Kudos to the jury. They put a lot of effort into understanding the issue at hand. Based on courtroom reporting, the jury paid attention and they asked clarifying questions while deliberating to make sure they understood. Software patents are a mess. Oracle's arguments were terrible from a CS standpoint (and their expert should be embarrassed).

I believe the only issue still on the table is API copyrightability which Judge Aslup will rule on as a matter of law. The jury found for Oracle in that instance because the jury instructions essentially mandated it. I expect Aslup will rule for Google on that claim as well.

Oracle's current claim for money is literally for 9 lines of code called rangeCheck (which anyone in a high school intro to java class could write), and 8 test files copied by a subcontractor and never distributed to end users.

A certain Oracle paid blogger will still manage to post how Oracle basically got everything it wanted.

That is incredible!

It's easy to knock the courts, but I think it's worth remembering that becoming a federal judge is very difficult and most of these guys have impressive backgrounds.

Judge, not jury.

Who's the paid blogger?

Is there any evidence that PJ is not a paid blogger herself? At least Florian was honest to declare on his blog that he was paid by Oracle to do some work and his blog might be tainted by that.

Your ad hominem is rather disgusting. Put up evidence or shut up.

I called Florian as a corporate shill here more than a year ago based on publicly available information. I believe him "outing himself" is more recent.


Edit: Also pj called it. http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20120419070127103

PJ called it alright. No offense but Groklaw's behaviour against Florian has been nothing short of disgraceful and extremely immature.

Who cares if Florian is being paid by Microsoft et al ? It happens all the time amongst bloggers and doesn't mean jack to me. EVERYONE is biassed in some way. Whether through money, previous experiences or external pressures. As a reader you should always consult multiple sources.

It's been really disappointing watching the great work that Groklaw do be sullied by all these personal attacks.

The problem with Florian Mueller is that he positioned himself for a long time as an independent analyst and has continued posing as such with many various media outlets and continues to be quoted that way. We all expect Oracle and Microsoft's lawyers and PR team to argue their case and nobody blames them for it. But somebody who deliberately tries to distort and influence a public issue through misinformation and deception - they absolutely deserve to be called out for it and criticized.

(And for what it is worth, Mueller actually provided genuinely informative coverage of many of the issues - which made him all the more effective).

Florian wasn't just an anonymous blogger before he was outed.

His "bully pulpit" was the blog once named "Free and Open Source Patents" (FOSS) and he leveraged some earlier open source advocacy to lend credibility to his shilling in the present case.


(Notice that the name is now seems to be changed at the site). One can however, easily find references on the web billing Mueller as an expert on "Free and Open Source Patents".

Edit: Added "seems" at bottom

Really? Who cares who's paying your news source? Isn't possible bias one of the most important issues when it comes to trusting a source?

There are degrees of bias and as a reader why would you want to waste your time reading from a source known to have a massive conflict of interest?

I definitely appreciate knowing about a source's bias.

It's certainly fine to know about it, IMO, but all of the internet taunting seems immature and unnecessary.

Part of the taunting now is in response to his past behavior.

Florian repeatedly refused to talk about his funding and insisted it was irrelevant (he has a history at lwn.net among other places). Now that we know the full context, people on the other side of that argument naturally want to underline it.

I can agree with that. Good point.

> Who cares if Florian is being paid by Microsoft et al ?

Are you out of your mind? I do, for one. A lot of people think this is a significant issue.

If nobody cared about Florian's funding, why did he consistently refuse to talk about it until recently?

>I called Florian as a corporate shill here more than a year ago based on publicly available information. I believe him "outing himself" is more recent.

So if Florian made up a pseudonym like PJ did, and posted articles only with it, he would have avoided your scrutiny of publicly available info and "outing" and all that, right?

>Put up evidence or shut up.

There is no way for the common person do that,

So the moral of the story is there is that Florian should made sure that there was no public information about him like PJ very successfully did and he would've been shielded from all the shill accusations like PJ is now? It's funny to to see Groklaw lob the accusations while not revealing anything about PJ that will allow someone to do some research like you did.

Not really.

The thing about the Internet and anonymity is that an anonymous web of trust really can tell you who someone is better than some single professional achievement. Both Florian and pj have a "trail" because if you work with people you can't avoid a trail. Pj's trail will tell you basically who she is just as Florian's will. Florian may have a blog titled "open source patents" but his trail of activity as corporate consultant tells a different story. Further, Mueller's efforts to spin information using his supposed open source credentials required that his identity be known and touted. As far as I know pj has always let her research speak for itself.


> but his trail of activity as corporate consultant tells a different story.

So.. as I said, if he hadn't associated his blog with his corporate consultant activity, he would be doing just fine right? The pseudonym's trail would've simply not have his original identity in it.

>As far as I know pj has always let her research speak for itself.

Mueller could also have just let his research speak for itself while hiding behind a pseudonym.

If an anonymous blogger posts what Florian does, his named would be dragged through the mud by the same people who are commenting here who would be asking him to disclose who he is and who pays him. Yes or no?

If it weren't for you meddling kids...

PJ isn't a pseudonym, it is her initials. Also, we have known that Pamela Jones was PJ since 2005, long before Oracle even bought Sun, let alone sued Google.

So basically, and please excuse the language, you appear to be talking complete and utter shit.

Slight;y off topic, but I'm confused. I thought PJ was retiring from Groklaw and yet most of the postings in this case have been signed PJ. Is "PJ" now just a moniker for an admin account on the site or is Pamela Jones active again?

For this case, it looks like things were split roughly half and half - PJ commenting on the transcripts from the court room, and Mark commenting on the filings on the docket. This is more activity from PJ that I would have expected given her semi-retirement, but it was always clear that she would be maintaining at least some level of activity with the sit.

Well, the postings have been signed 'anonymous', but the title has been signed PJ, so I doubt that it is an admin account unless their servers are setup really weirdly and wrong and back to front and stuff.

But yes, Pamela was reactivated specially for this case. It took a little over three days to warm the reanimation capsule back to room temperature after retrieving it from the catacombs beneath Geneva Airport. Apparently Pamela was extremely annoyed. She had been hoping to stay dormant until at least 2063, so that she could make a killing on some SpaceX investments. Or so I am told.

"There is no way for the common person do that"

Perhaps not, but I'm pretty sure that the firm of Boies, Schiller & Flexner should have been able to find some evidence by now, since this is the second trial where PJ has documented their loss in exquisite detail.

Why, exactly is it OK for you to make up a pseudonym and libel Ms. Jones?

I demand disclosure. Your full name, your address, your phone, bank, and tax records for the past year, social security statement, and a sworn affidavit that you have never been paid by, had any financial interest in, or were related to anyone with an interest in, IBM, SCO, Oracle, Google, Novell, and any media outlet that has ever given critical or favorable coverage to any of these companies.

If you don't comply within 24 hours, I'll assume you're simply a troll and paid shill.

Edit: Downvoters may want to consult "cooldeal"'s other comments on this very page for context. I'm simply demanding of him what he demands of others.

>libel Ms. Jones?

See, this is the exact attitude I am talking about. Anyone even questioning PJ's funding sources is immediately vilified, hated on and modded down to death. While the same about Florian are modded up to the sky and it's totally okay to do that since he's not batting on your side, even if he's the one that has disclosed his interests.

Since you've attempted to deflect instead of disclose, I now assume you are a hypocrite in Oracle's employ.

That would be an unfair assumption, you should be careful in putting down to deceit, that which can also be explained by incompetence.

"There is no way for the common person do that"

Eh? Of course there is. It is called investigatory journalism and it is a lot of work.

Also, I think you may have the moral of the story wrong.

Florian pretended to be a FOSS advocate for a very long time and refused to disclose his clients, when it was clear for all that he was being paid by Microsoft.

And you can't be both ?

Or does that mean that I should ignore anyone who is being paid by a company. Because that would be almost everyone, right ?

"And you can't be both ?"

His "FOSS advocacy" for the last few years has consistently been solely cheering for every patent and copyright suit against open source software.

"Or does that mean that I should ignore anyone who is being paid by a company."

Being paid for PR that borders astroturfing and refusing to disclose that is over the line for me.

I did think that he also campaigned against software patents in Europe, though I think there was controversy there, too, concerning his methods.

At that time he campaigned against Software Patents because he was being paid to do so by Red Hat and MySQL. Now he's funded by Microsoft and Oracle.

You should possibly recognise that being paid to hold an opinion is very different from being paid for an opinion.

I don't know if PJ is paid by any of the parties involved, but I do know that PJ has actual legal experience as a paralegal, which is the main reason I think that her analysis carries weight when compared to those with no professional legal experience.

Also with no evidence of PJ being paid by Google, it would seem to be an unfair assumption to make.

Thank you HN for making me bleed karma for my posts in this story and turning them light gray.

Meanwhile, not a single downmod(and probably many upvotes) on someone calling Florian a dick and a bastard(so much for HN etiquette).


I give, Florian Mueller is a bastard, can I too get some karma?


I give, Florian Mueller is a bastard, can I too get some karma?

Sorry, you have to mean it.

FWIIW, I downvoted that comment. It used inappropriate language, it was tasteless, uninformative, and clearly against HN etiquette.

I downvoted your post (above) as well for the same reasons.

Florian al-Sahaf

I was referring Florian Mueller, I think.

Florian Mueller?

Unless they stipulated to something I missed, there's actually another very important issue on the table: Fair use.

The jury decided Google "infringed", but couldn't agree whether the fair use defense applied.

If Alsup rules APIs are not copyrightable, the fair use defense is moot and we're done (barring appeal, which will surely happen), but if he were to go the other way, fair use may have to be re-litigated in front of a new jury.

Just saw this tweet from a journalist:

Dan Levine ‏@FedcourtJunkie:

We all just interviewed juror, who said jury was split 9-3 for google on copyright fair use. Um, wow.


It's worse than that. At one point the fair use vote was 11-1 in favor of Google until the holdout persuaded two other jurors [1]. As you might guess, that same juror was the one that had to be persuaded to reach a unanimous patent verdict.

[1] http://www.law.com/jsp/ca/PubArticleCA.jsp?id=1202555835757&...

"Wow" is right. There's also this interesting gem right after: https://twitter.com/FedcourtJunkie/status/205371711233851392

> Juror said it was his opinion that more tech savvy jurors were less likely to go for limits on openness. Ie they were pro google

This really says it all. Ultimately Oracle can only win if the jury is borderline luddite.

Why is a 9-3 split particularly surprising?

Frankly, I didn't have much confidence in this jury. It was stacked to avoid techies, its findings on other copyright issues (e.g. rangecheck) didn't instill much confidence in me, and some of the questions that were emerging made me question their ability to understand complex issues and distinguish between basically being ordered to find infringement, and being asked to determine if it was really infringement.

If you'd asked me what the count was likely to be, I probably would have told you something like 10-2 for Oracle.

Being non tech savvy does not make you a luddite.

No, but it's getting pretty hard to argue that a randomly selected jury of Northern California citizens should be completely devoid of smartphone owners.

What I want to know now is where we go on the copyright. The judge is taking an incredibly long time working on that. The speculation I've read says that this may be good for Google, but who knows?

I saw a comment from Grellas on a prior story that said that the judge has some crazy precedents to deal with in his circuit and they can't freely adopt the Borland case's logic without dealing with them. I'd like to know how the request for briefs on Sony v. Connectix figures into that. Is that case from the same circuit? If so, that would really make me believe that he's working on a pro-Google ruling. After all, it shouldn't be that hard to come up with a finding of infringement. You only have a lot of justification to do if you want to find non-infringement.

Finally, I wonder what, if any, the impact of the juror telling us that is was 9-3 in favor of Google will be. Does that help support a finding of fair use or not?

That said, I'm glad to hear that Google has been cleared of infringing upon these absurd patents. I just hope they still get invalidated too, so that no one else ever has to worry about them.

Almost as memorable as the verdict will be the outright shame and absurdity that was the "rangeCheck defense." It made a mockery of the system and was insulting to the judge and jury. "Check upper bound, check lower bound, throw exception. You can't explain that!"

Could you elaborate on that? I'm familiar with the rangeCheck() issue, but I'm not sure what you're trying to say about it.

rangeCheck's implementation is a baby step above "Hello World". Oracle's lawyer stood up in front of a judge and jury and tried to claim that that function and Joshua Bloch's admission that he copied it was evidence of Google's guilt. Basically, he tried to take advantage of their lack of domain knowledge to fool them into thinking this was a real Thing Worth Deliberating. Turns out his ploy failed since the judge knew wtf he was talking about and actually codes.

A (flawed) analogy would be if it were a case around the copyright infringement of a book whereby the author, at a new company, copied the phrase "Table of Contents" from a previous novel and pasted it into his new book's table of contents at the head of the page. Anyone with half a brain that understands the domain of writing realizes this is elementary and outside of the scope of what constitutes real, novel IP. Arguing such a point reveals you want to exploit the ignorance of your audience to not know that "Table of Contents" is a phrase used in the industry and obvious to come up with on your own to describe that part of the book. Basically, once the jig is up and the audience knows you're full of it, every claim you make downstream from there ("I know it would take me months to be able to write rangeCheck") makes you look even worse.

The reason this is memorable to me is it makes it as transparent as one could hope as to who in the room was arguing based upon reality, and who was arguing to win. For a software company to do this is an embarrassment since we are supposed to be increasing computer literacy not exploit computer illiteracy to our own advantage.

Ah, I was thrown off because you said "rangeCheck defense" -- it sounds like you meant "rangeCheck offense".

Ah yes, I was implying a similarity to the "Chewbacca defense" in its stupidity :)

Fantastic news for Google and the rest of the world. And a good thing for the other Larry as well, at least now he has some confirmation that he really isn't god.

Next up, the appeal.

I don't know. I was kinda hoping Google will license Java for Andorid, and we'll have one Java instead of two.

That's not Google's choice. Sun and Oracle are the ones refusing to allow the Java trademark to be used by an open-source implementation for a mobile platform.

I think Oracle would allow it if the price was right. The problem is that "one Java" probably means Java SE, which means you have to use bloat like JAR files and Swing/AWT, which would make Android less competitive with iOS.

Would it really help if someone paid $Nbn for the Java label for some snapshot of Harmony or whatever? Open source software (which is open in spirit, not just by name) is always a moving target. As soon as you fork it, it's no longer covered by the license. And when is it a fork, exactly?

I don't think anybody's talking about a snapshot. During the Sun/Google negotiations there was discussion of an ongoing partnership where Google would be forced to adopt new versions of Java as the JCP released them. Google didn't want the JCP backseat-driving Android, so they declined.

Well, Java SE is going to be fully modular starting with the upcoming Java 8.

The problem isn't just trademarks and API compatibility. I just wish Android could run a true JVM. Problem is the JVM spec is only licensed to TCK compliant implementations, and those aren't given to un-licensed mobile implementation.

What's the problem with not running a JVM?

Android does just fine running the true Dalvik VM.

That's not Google's choice.

Google quite intentionally steered away from any certified or branded Java because they wanted Sun asserting no control over them (in some of the "Damning" evidence there were internal discussions where Google talks about ignoring licensing not because of financial costs, but because it put Sun at the wheel). J2ME was the disaster it was because of Sun's guardianship.

Android is not Sun. It borrows from some of the tools out of convenience, and uses some of the conventions, but no one is under any illusion that it is the same platform.

Hey, Oracle could always make Java compatible with Android...

That was never going to happen. Oracle doesn't care at all about Java beyond tapping into a stream of royalties from Android. Google's whole purpose for creating Android is to have it be free from control of others; I think they would rather re-engineer the entire base OS to workaround any infringement rather than submit to Oracle taking a permanent slice of control or royalties.

We all knew Google would win. Next up the imminent appeal (if Oracle want to get themselves butt hurt a second time). If the jury and judge had ruled that API's were copyrightable, who knows what that could have done to sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and any other site that relies on a third party framework, library or piece of code to functionally operate.

Oracle are the rotting enterprise dinosaur that refuses to accept evolution and adapt or just die. The patent system is a absolute joke.

Oracle are unlikely to appeal, especially because it was a jury case.

>If the jury and judge had ruled that API's were copyrightable, who knows what that could have done to sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and any other site that relies on a third party framework, library or piece of code to functionally operate.

The jury did see that Google infringed copyright by implementing the APIs, however this doesn't impact others in the way you've stated because using an API isn't the same as copying someone else's, and even then it was still narrowly defined.

>Oracle are the rotting enterprise dinosaur that refuses to accept evolution and adapt or just die.

This isn't all true, while I'm certain their motivation was not in the right place to begin with, the case they brought did have merits regarding the fragmentation of java. (As there are similarities to the microsoft case.)

The question of whether the "Structure, Sequence and Organisation" of the Java API is copyrightable in the ninth circuit is still before the judge. This question is that one that is of most interest to the rest of us, and is the ruling that is most likely to be appealed (no matter which way it goes).

FTA plus amen: "Patents and software need to get a divorce before somebody gets hurt. The damage is astounding, and the IP is so puny. There is an imbalance in the legal universe, and it needs fixing."

Great news for Google, Android, and an entire ecosystem. Bad news for my ORCL stock :/

You know, I think this is good for your Oracle stock, and that by losing this trial they have dodged a significant bullet.

Because the outcome of this trial was never going to be a never-ending stream of bountiful royalties for Oracle. It would be a one off damages payment from Google, a complete re-engineering of Android to systematically work around whatever infringement was found, and widescale abandonment and damage to the Java ecosystem and brand.

In my opinion Android has provided a lifeline to Java at a time when it was otherwise being abandoned wholesale by the next generation of programmers. It has kept new, intelligent young people learning the language for long enough for Oracle to bridge the widening gap between Java and other languages with Java7 and hopefully Java8. (Whether Oracle actually pulls this off is up to them ... but thanks to Android they have the opportunity).

Really all this was for Oracle was a gambit to control/profit from Android. That they were rebuffed (for now) means they lose out. Amorally speaking, they invested some money (in the legal costs) and lost on their bet.

Also Java is a (unfortunate IMHO) defacto-standard in enterprise software. The alternatives are .NET or GTFO, really. This is not changing any time soon... Java does not need Android in any real sense (though does help it).

> Also Java is a (unfortunate IMHO) defacto-standard in enterprise software.

Oh, totally agree, but

> "not changing any time soon"

It may still take a while but I think it'll greatly hasten Java's demise if new / young people aren't learning it.

This means little for Oracle, it was always a long shot and certainly not anything they depend on for their future. The question is really why Oracle have bothered with this, mobile phones isn't a strategic area for them, Java ME wasn't going to rise from the legacy graveyard whatever the outcome was. Of course Oracle do love to be perceived as an assholish and not nice at all company. But one would have thought that they would pick their fights on battlegrounds that matter to them, not going for the uphill battle in something that is very tangential to their actual business.

Oracle is so weird. On the one hand VirtualBox and btrfs. On the the other, this and the openoffice mess.

I always think they are a bit like IBM, but without such a cheery and relaxed attitude. Sock suspenders will be compulsory.

Why do you have ORCL stock?

I bought Oracle stock (not much) years ago after watching the final part of Triumph of the Nerds, where Larry Ellison laid out his vision of a thin-client future. He was basically right, although where he saw Oracle serving as the backend infrastructure for this glorious new future, Google and other internet-oriented startups have stepped in.

What I really wanted to buy, I see now, was Google stock. But it didn't exist at that point and when Google's IPO came along a few years later I didn't have enough discretionary income to bother.

Yeah Larry came out pretty good in that interview. But it was a different time for sure. (Mid 90s right?) I think in the end greed surpass his ability to implement his vision.

Is there a reason he shouldn't have stock in Oracle?

Some people believe that you should invest in companies at least in part based on whether their actions are broadly good for society: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socially_responsible_investing

Perhaps that's the point of view that LockeWatts is coming from. I certainly would feel weird purchasing stock in certain companies, like tobacco companies, though mutual funds I own probably have some of their stock. The way Oracle's behaving many people might feel similarly about them.

Despite my terse snarkiness (for which I ought to apologize, I think HN is turning me into an asshole, as I am definitely not 'assuming good faith' on too many posts,) that's what I believed he was implying.

If I'd gone on, I would have suggested that Oracle is a for-profit company, and generally tends to act as one would expect them to. They are beholden to their shareholders to maximize value. I could see an argument for disagreeing with the notion of patents in general, and would respect a person for saying "I won't hold stock in Oracle as I feel they leverage the patent sytem, which I don't agree with."

What I took issue with was the idea of sitting in judgement of someone else for not sharing those values, and by extension, making the implied assertion that holding stock in Oracle is evil.

It should probably be noted that I'm not on my best behavior today, but at least as far as I know, Oracle isn't doing anything clearly evil, like killing children, or worshiping Satan (though I could see the debatability of even those, really).

I could also surmise that probably quite a few people sharing the stance of socially responsible investing probably hold stock in Apple, a company that also leverages the patent system, as well as (in my opinion, though I don't intend to debate it until I've 'exhaled the bad air, and inhaled the good') engaging in exploitative work practices via FoxConn and such.

All this is of course conjecture, as the grandparent may have had a perfectly good reason for having asked the question that has nothing to do with this, and I am at least trying to allow room for that assumption. Either way, I think it deserves more dialog, which is why I asked the question.

Thanks for the post though. I didn't know that there was a term coined for such behavior, so I've learned that at least.

You're taking this too far. I think Google and Oracle are about as good and as bad as each other for the world.

You have got to be kidding me ? Mentioning tobacco companies (who literally kill people) in the same vein as Oracle is pretty offensive.

I mean what exactly has Oracle done wrong other than sue Google to try and make them pay royalties for their use of Java. No different to every other IT company that is suing right now.

Every action has repercussions beyond the parties directly involved. If Oracle wins on API copyrightability, that precedent would destroy vast swaths of the software industry, not just Android. Curtailing innovation at the expense of thousands of developers' livelihoods is not remotely the same as selling products that kill their users, but is certainly unethical enough to invoke the discussion of socially responsible investing.

ORCL is down 0.4% as of now, vs 1.08% for the NASDAQ, so maybe not?

This post made it to #1 on HN in less than 10 minutes.

Is this a record?

No, the instagram buyout was #1/Pg1 less than a minute after it hit /newest :-)

I suspect a lot of people (like me) are following this closely so as soon as there is news it gets voted up here.

Glad the jury found in Google's favor, I think that was the right call. And I really hope that Judge Alsup finds that APIs are not copywritable, Still waiting on that one.

I believe it might have been this one: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3742902 ;)

Don't all posts start at #1 immediately, then trail away until they get upvotes? Or is that just how a user sees their own submissions?

You see it as #1 on the 'newest' page, but not on the 'new' page.

"$6 billion damages" headlines sell more ads is all

"Oracle loses $6 billion" should sell pretty well, too. To bad it won't happen, though--it would be nice to have some blowback temper jackassery and chest-thumping.

"Oracle CEO kills kittens" also. It's equally as accurate and makes just as much sense.

Can someone explain what the practical outcomes are of this verdict? For programmers and companies?

This particular one? Not much. But its good news to hear that a jury isn't to be fooled by mispresenting facts.

Oracle literally tried to present dexopt as a dynamic optimizer, because it optimizes for the hardware/software configuration on your smartphone. Thats coming from the makers of the HotSpot VM.

I would rather say that Oracle tried to present "dynamic" as a word which refers to what dexopt does. Because there was no dispute over what dexopt does, only over what "dynamic" means.

The all-important conclusion (which has yet to be reached) is to the question of whether APIs can be copyrighted. Up until now, all of our software licensing laws have operated under the assumption that APIs and header files are not copyrightable. At this stage it's expected that the status quo will be maintained, which is good for mostly everyone. If the judge were to rule otherwise, and the rule were to be enforced, many software licenses would need to be adapted, and a lot of messy things start happening for projects that provide compatibility with other APIs. As an example, something like GNUstep couldn't exist.

The outcome for and against would have meant absolutely nothing for programmers and companies.

It was all about Oracle extracting licensing fees from Google.

That's not true. Almost all decisions in court are made in light of similar cases that had been tried in the past.

Therefore, it stands to reason that any decision made, whether for or against Google, could effect future decisions for companies involved in similar suits.

I think, in this particular instance, a decision against Google could have set a terrible precedent.

> Patents and software need to get a divorce before somebody gets hurt.

Well said.

That's good news for the Android and Java community. One less patent roadblock looming over the heads.

Oh thank goodness ! Finally its over. I hope Oracle learns some kind of lesson from this.

This seems like (yet another) suit that never should have been filed to begin with. Everyone lost time, and everyone except the lawyers and the court (court fees) lost money.

You're not serious ? This is EXACTLY the type of suits that should be filed.

There were legitimate issues to be discussed and it made the entire software industry think about what it means for an API to be copyrighted, defense of software patents etc. This decision has set a precedent that we may not see repeated again.

I say it was absolutely worth it.

Actually the API copyright question has not been answered yet - the judge has yet to rule on whether it's copyrightable, and the jury hung on whether it's fair use.

This case is not over.

But why do you think that?

Is it because it will deter future litigation?

If yes, does that imply that there is a business advantage to avoiding litigation?

What would Alsup say about this case? As a programmer who is also a judge did he think there were really legitimate issues here that needed to be resolved?

I guess some see issues, and lack of clarity, where others do not. I see extremely weak claims and a very large legal budget. That's just me.

You may be right. If this makes things clearer, then it has value.

So should we thank Oracle for bringing the suit?

While we're at it, I'd like to thank Burroughs Corp. for all the early precedent they gave us.

And now we can re-tweet at the Florian Mueller dick (the bastard at FOSS patents) how wrong he was. Check that dick's article:


You realize that you're just giving him more publicity, which is what his end-goal is. No one will pay him to be a shill if he doesn't have an audience.

On a sidenote:

I think most people should be much more questionable about groklaw. I am big open source and FSF advocate, but I'm not above thinking that groklaw is controlled/funded by a much larger power.

I hope it's just a conspiracy theory. But I do think that anonymity works both ways; it can imply that you want to say the truth unencumbered, but it also can imply astroturfing.

Just because the wind blows this way doesn't mean it always will.

> but I'm not above thinking that groklaw is controlled/funded by a much larger power.

Proof? Anything? This line has been used since the early days of SCO. I've never seen anything resembling proof.

Indeed, Groklaw has earned the trust I give them. Do not mistake ignorance for insightfulness.

I really like the blog and its my go to site for legal software news and I don't think there is some kind of higher power backing it but I'm still very careful with everything I read there. I haven't seen any evidence of corporate backing, but there is no attempt to hide bias. Its definitely far from an objective news source.

What bias? You may be confusing bias with opinion. "Equal time" is not unbiased reporting, and having a clear opinion is not bias, unless your opinion turns out to be consistently wrong.

The editorializing gets tiresome when I just want to find out what happened during the trial. It feels like reading the Daily Mail; you can get actual news from there, but you have to be constantly on your guard against osmosing their opinions.

> Its definitely far from an objective news source.

Let me know when you find one.

PJ is suspiciously silent when it is IBM using patents to threaten open source projects, or when it is IBM writing in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court that:

   Patent protection has promoted the free sharing
   of source code on a patentee’s terms---which has
   fueled the explosive growth of open source software

[citation needed]

The IBM quote is from their Bilski brief.

By "suspiciously silent" you mean "Groklaw covered it", right?


Is that because they were the only site to go against the collective media's "$6 billion damages" estimates?

a) There is no such as thing as "collective media".

b) That estimate was exactly that. An estimate. I never read any mainstream media site that took a strong position that Google was going to win.

On (b), given events in the case to date, what does that tell you about the quality of the legal analysis (about this case) done/disseminated by the mainstream media?

"I think most people should be much more questionable about groklaw. I am big open source and FSF advocate, but I'm not above thinking that groklaw is controlled/funded by a much larger power."

I've heard this before, and it is usually the shills that spout that line.

Perhaps you should know exactly who you're accusing.


Sorry you got downvoted to oblivion, but it is to be expected. It's taboo around these parts to question if PJ gets paid for her efforts. However, it's totally acceptable and in fact expected to probe deep into sources of funding for people who dare to argue on the other side of the fence. (In fact, PJ does that in this very article.) All this while we don't even know for sure if PJ is a real person and not a pen name used by the Google/IBM legal teams.

What difference does it make? She's not the judge or jury, so she can be as biased as she wants. It's a blog. Who cares who is paying for it?

It makes a lot of difference, see how Florian gets treated by the crowd around here(not to mention the jabs at him in the article linked), in spite of coming clean about his affiliations with Oracle. There's a big perception by many here that PJ is impartial and independent, and a disclosure by PJ will show whether that's justified or not.

I don't think anybody is calling PJ impartial - she clearly takes sides. When PJ summarizes things as "Oracle/SCO's case has no merit" and the trial results in a loss for Oracle/SCO, that is evidence that PJ is a good reporter and analyst. It is not evidence of anything fishy about PJ's motives.

>There's a big perception by many here that PJ is impartial and independent, and a disclosure by PJ will show whether that's justified or not.

And? Either his data is correct and forthright or incorrect and misleading. It's quite possible to be biased as fuck and still report objective fact. Until such time as the data skews, I don't particularly care what flag he flies.

Then why is the article and people here making such a big deal about Florian then?

He is A) wrong and B) profits from being wrong by taking money from the people he is writing falsehoods about and C) tried to hide this astroturfing.

It may not be "murderer" or "child molester" evil, but it's still pretty unethical and it's unethical behavior done in the name of "FOSS". We have a right and responsibility to police our own.

His writing style tends to conflate facts and opinions moreso than PJ's does. He also sounds like a troll. The "we don't like this person" heuristic has been activated, and the fact that he's paid by Oracle is irrelevant.

Because Florian is all opinion, no material. I personally come to Groklaw for the exact and accurate coverage of original sources on these lawsuits, and its easy to ignore the commentary track.

I can't speak for others, but I don't think PJ is impartial or independent. We all know who she's rooting for in these cases and she doesn't try to hide it.

The reason PJ is respected here and in other places is because more often than not... she's right (especially from the perspective of helping programmers understand the foreign and alien legal system).

You completely miss the reasons for our attitudes concerning the two individuals. Florian is consistently wrong in ways that could harm software development.

PJ is consistently correct in ways that are good for software development. It has less to do with who pays whom and more to do with who is correct.

The distaste is magnified when someone is paid to be wrong but the ultimate source of the distaste that they are wrong.

What disclosure do you want, exactly? Bank records? Travel history? Phone records?

Florian's hand was ultimately forced because it is impractical to keep consulting for multiple large companies a secret.

So far, no one has ever found any evidence that PJ is anything other than what she says she is -- a Linux user and former paralegal. Even when Maureen O'Gara thought it'd be a good idea to stalk her and publish everything to the world, no evidence of any kind came to light.

You are proposing a criminal (yes, criminal, perjury is a crime, and sworn statements as to PJ's lack of involvement with IBM were filed in the SCO case) conspiracy spanning at least multiple large public companies, a well-known law professor, and several prominent tech journalists.

Presumably, they would like to know which law firm employs her. That is relevant information, though I suspect she knows better than to cover cases her firm participates in after what happened when the Patent Troll Tracker was outed as a Cisco lawyer.

He was an honest fellow who got hit with a bunch of lawsuits from a troll who didn't like being called a troll and ended up in a mess because he commented on a case he was a party to and ended up resigning. He was outed after a troll put a bounty on his identity, no less.

Why do you think she's employed by any law firm? She's a former paralegal, not a current paralegal.

Can you cite a source on that? I wasn't aware of her being retired and I find it hard to believe that someone with her skill would be unemployed.

I guess my only direct source is that every time she's spoken of working as a paralegal, it's been in the past tense. e.g. her H-Online interview:


It would certainly have been impractical for long stretches of Groklaw's history for PJ to have a day job.

Interesting, thanks.

I am not a girl but...yay!


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