Google and Oracle face off - again - over Android, with billions on the line

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Two of Silicon Valley's most accomplished heavyweights stepped back into the legal squared circle this week, as the search giant defends its use of Oracle's Java APIs in Android for the second time.




Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt took the witness stand on Tuesday and proved tough for Oracle's legal team to pin down, according to Computerworld. Schmidt -- a longtime Silicon Valley insider and former Sun Microsystems chief -- said that he had never heard of a company being forced to seek a license for API usage despite "forty years of experience."

Under additional questioning from Oracle attorney Peter Bicks, Schmidt went on to deny that Google requires developers or other interested third parties to obtain such licenses for use of its own APIs.

"I'm not aware of one that we treat as proprietary in the way you're asking your question," he told Bicks, nodding toward Google's assertion that Oracle's demands are unusual and unreasonable.

Just over 10,000 lines of code -- out of potentially millions of lines in Android -- are at issue in the trial, but Bicks sought to reframe that for the jury. "It took 10,000 lines of code to power this Apollo lunar module," Bicks said, holding up a photo of the famous spacecraft.

If Oracle emerges victorious, it could mean a windfall for Larry Ellison's firm. The company is seeking $8.8 billion in damages from what it believes is Google's $21 billion profit from Android to date.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    ttollertonttollerton Posts: 189member
    Slow day for APPLE news, I guess.  :)

    Interesting story though.  
  • Reply 2 of 27
    gprovidagprovida Posts: 247member
    Check out Foss Patents site, this trial may well end up back in the Appeals Court and have to be redone. My guess it's another 5 years before Oracle collects any funds on this.  

    By by the way, I think Oracle has a good case regarding Google's dismissal of its copyright on Java. 
  • Reply 3 of 27
    rotateleftbyterotateleftbyte Posts: 1,083member
    gprovida said:
    Check out Foss Patents site, this trial may well end up back in the Appeals Court and have to be redone. My guess it's another 5 years before Oracle collects any funds on this.  

    By by the way, I think Oracle has a good case regarding Google's dismissal of its copyright on Java. 
    IMHO, that site is hardly a bastion of impartiality.
  • Reply 4 of 27
    ericthehalfbeeericthehalfbee Posts: 4,061member
    gprovida said:
    Check out Foss Patents site, this trial may well end up back in the Appeals Court and have to be redone. My guess it's another 5 years before Oracle collects any funds on this.  

    By by the way, I think Oracle has a good case regarding Google's dismissal of its copyright on Java. 
    IMHO, that site is hardly a bastion of impartiality.

    Except that in this case he's been correct on most issues, even predicting the Appeals Court outcome. Meanwhile, PJ at Groklaw (who, as it turned out, was wrong on most issues in this case) has run away like a coward and shut Groklaw down over the lamest of excuses - that the government is snooping on your e-mails. Funny how the rest of the world has continued on without issue over so-called NSA spying but Groklaw was, for some inexplicable reason, unable to continue to function.
  • Reply 5 of 27
    karmadavekarmadave Posts: 312member
    The roots of this case go all the way back to before Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems. One of the assets that Oracle valued was the Java IP which was developed at Sun by Sun Engineers and licensed to other mobile OS manufacturers such as RIM. James Gosling, the 'inventor' of Java even worked at Google, for a short period of time post-aqusition, but I don't think it's relevant in this case. While I think Oracle has a strong argument, it's always up to the courts to decide. Ironically, had Sun been able to successfully negotiate a license with Google (like they did with RIM/Blackberry) Oracle would now be collecting a royalty on each and every Android handset sold... 
  • Reply 6 of 27
    croprcropr Posts: 934member
    gprovida said:
    Check out Foss Patents site, this trial may well end up back in the Appeals Court and have to be redone. My guess it's another 5 years before Oracle collects any funds on this.  

    By by the way, I think Oracle has a good case regarding Google's dismissal of its copyright on Java. 
    IMHO, that site is hardly a bastion of impartiality.
    Just like AppleInsider?
    singularity
  • Reply 7 of 27
    curt12curt12 Posts: 41member


    Under additional questioning from Oracle attorney Peter Bicks, Schmidt went on to deny that Google requires developers or other interested third parties to obtain such licenses for use of its own APIs.

    "I'm not aware of one that we treat as proprietary in the way you're asking your question," he told Bicks, nodding toward Google's assertion that Oracle's demands are unusual and unreasonable.

    Amazon, for one, independently implements some of Google's APIs: 

    "The Amazon Maps API offers interface parity with version 2 of the Google Maps API. Most classes and method calls in your Google Maps app work the same on Amazon devices."
    https://developer.amazon.com/public/apis/experience/maps/docs-v2/migrating-an-app-from-google-maps-v2
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 8 of 27
    firelockfirelock Posts: 149member
    Slow day for APPLE news, I guess.  :)

    Interesting story though.  
    It's relevant news to Apple users. For an Apple news site to not occasionally cover competitors to Apple or other events in the industry would be like a history book about the American Army in WW2 ignoring comparisons to the German and Japanese armies or even allied armies like Russia and Britain. Context is everything.
    jony0jbdragonmoreck
  • Reply 9 of 27
    isteelersisteelers Posts: 738member
    Oracle will get nothing from this. The courts will rule in favor of Google.  Oracle should continue to fight for their property but it will turn out the same as last time.  The courts like Google for some reason.  
    jony0jbdragon
  • Reply 10 of 27
    WTH is a "legal squared circle"?  I did a quick google of it, and only found other news outlet's coverage of this same story. Seems that there's tons of plagiarism going on, which is typical in the entertainment media.  Finally found "squared circle" in wikipedia, and see the reference to boxing, and that this is a metaphor for a metaphor.  Seems an inappropriate combination for the tech audience, though.  KISS.
  • Reply 11 of 27
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,562member
    karmadave said:
    The roots of this case go all the way back to before Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems. One of the assets that Oracle valued was the Java IP which was developed at Sun by Sun Engineers and licensed to other mobile OS manufacturers such as RIM. James Gosling, the 'inventor' of Java even worked at Google, for a short period of time post-aqusition, but I don't think it's relevant in this case. While I think Oracle has a strong argument, it's always up to the courts to decide. Ironically, had Sun been able to successfully negotiate a license with Google (like they did with RIM/Blackberry) Oracle would now be collecting a royalty on each and every Android handset sold... 

    As you said this pre-dates google, This goes back to Andy Rubin, he is the one who stole this as well as other things to make Android. Google has no choice now but to define this case and hope to win. Why, Larry made it clear he will not license the API which would shut down Android, but this is also why Google has been rewriting Android so to not have this issue going forward.
  • Reply 12 of 27
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,583member
    gprovida said:
    Check out Foss Patents site, this trial may well end up back in the Appeals Court and have to be redone. My guess it's another 5 years before Oracle collects any funds on this.  

    By by the way, I think Oracle has a good case regarding Google's dismissal of its copyright on Java. 
    IMHO, that site is hardly a bastion of impartiality.

    Except that in this case he's been correct on most issues, even predicting the Appeals Court outcome. Meanwhile, PJ at Groklaw (who, as it turned out, was wrong on most issues in this case) has run away like a coward and shut Groklaw down over the lamest of excuses - that the government is snooping on your e-mails. Funny how the rest of the world has continued on without issue over so-called NSA spying but Groklaw was, for some inexplicable reason, unable to continue to function.
    Didn't she shut the site down even before the initial judgement from Alsup that favored Google? Her excuse might be lame but running away from Google/Oracle doesn't appear to be the reason, at least to me. 
    lord amhransingularity
  • Reply 13 of 27
    calfotocalfoto Posts: 58member
    Eric Schmidt said:
    "I'm not aware of one that we treat as proprietary in the way you're asking your question" 
    Love that answer - Sort of like “what the definition of 'is' is
    moreck
  • Reply 14 of 27
    ericthehalfbeeericthehalfbee Posts: 4,061member
    maestro64 said:
    karmadave said:
    The roots of this case go all the way back to before Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems. One of the assets that Oracle valued was the Java IP which was developed at Sun by Sun Engineers and licensed to other mobile OS manufacturers such as RIM. James Gosling, the 'inventor' of Java even worked at Google, for a short period of time post-aqusition, but I don't think it's relevant in this case. While I think Oracle has a strong argument, it's always up to the courts to decide. Ironically, had Sun been able to successfully negotiate a license with Google (like they did with RIM/Blackberry) Oracle would now be collecting a royalty on each and every Android handset sold... 

    As you said this pre-dates google, This goes back to Andy Rubin, he is the one who stole this as well as other things to make Android. Google has no choice now but to define this case and hope to win. Why, Larry made it clear he will not license the API which would shut down Android, but this is also why Google has been rewriting Android so to not have this issue going forward.

    I doubt Oracle would refuse licensing to Google. I think Oracle would ask that Google bring "Android Java" back into line and compatible with "regular Java" so there's no longer two different, and incompatible versions.

    Speaking of incompatible, one argument Google makes is that APIs can't be copyrighted as this would prevent interoperability. However, Android isn't compatible with Java, so I'm not even sure why they are using this tactic.
    jbdragon
  • Reply 15 of 27
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,583member
    Speaking of incompatible, one argument Google makes is that APIs can't be copyrighted as this would prevent interoperability. However, Android isn't compatible with Java, so I'm not even sure why they are using this tactic.
    On that point we're in total agreement. It's a non-sensical argument if applied to the way Google used the API's
  • Reply 16 of 27
    ericthehalfbeeericthehalfbee Posts: 4,061member
    gatorguy said:

    Except that in this case he's been correct on most issues, even predicting the Appeals Court outcome. Meanwhile, PJ at Groklaw (who, as it turned out, was wrong on most issues in this case) has run away like a coward and shut Groklaw down over the lamest of excuses - that the government is snooping on your e-mails. Funny how the rest of the world has continued on without issue over so-called NSA spying but Groklaw was, for some inexplicable reason, unable to continue to function.
    Didn't she shut the site down even before the initial judgement from Alsup that favored Google? Her excuse might be lame but running away from Google/Oracle doesn't appear to be the reason, at least to me. 

    No, the first judgement came down over a year before Groklaw was shut down. And I never stated she ran away from Oracle/Google specifically, but it was definitely a factor.

    Most industry people thought Oracle would win on copyright. It was considered a slam dunk, such that nobody thought it was even necessary to put their support behind Oracle. When Aslup made his ridiculous decision they all woke up and went "WTF just happened". After the trial and when Oracle filed their appeal is when all the big industry players started submitting their amicus briefs in support or Oracle. They basically all "woke up" after the first trial result.

    Around the time this was going on and support for Oracle was pouring in is when the NSA spying broke and PJ shut down Groklaw.
  • Reply 17 of 27
    loquiturloquitur Posts: 112member
    IMHO, that site is hardly a bastion of impartiality.

    Except that in this case he's been correct on most issues, even predicting the Appeals Court outcome. Meanwhile, PJ at Groklaw (who, as it turned out, was wrong on most issues in this case) has run away like a coward and shut Groklaw down over the lamest of excuses - that the government is snooping on your e-mails. Funny how the rest of the world has continued on without issue over so-called NSA spying but Groklaw was, for some inexplicable reason, unable to continue to function.
    I miss Groklaw too, not minding PJ's being a bit doctrinaire and OCD over open source.
    I assumed the closure over the Lavabit flap was a pretext for something else.
  • Reply 18 of 27
    loquiturloquitur Posts: 112member
    maestro64 said:

    As you said this pre-dates google, This goes back to Andy Rubin, he is the one who stole this as well as other things to make Android. Google has no choice now but to define this case and hope to win. Why, Larry made it clear he will not license the API which would shut down Android, but this is also why Google has been rewriting Android so to not have this issue going forward.

    I doubt Oracle would refuse licensing to Google. I think Oracle would ask that Google bring "Android Java" back into line and compatible with "regular Java" so there's no longer two different, and incompatible versions.

    Speaking of incompatible, one argument Google makes is that APIs can't be copyrighted as this would prevent interoperability. However, Android isn't compatible with Java, so I'm not even sure why they are using this tactic.
    Wouldn't this imply that any clean-room implementation of anything (like Linux for Unix) should "unfork"?   (Since copyright lasts
    for close to a century the implications of API copyright are rather large.)   Since the U.S. adopted the Berne Convention
    copyright inheres everywhere tangible media exist, but I'd be surprised that fair use for copyrighted code should be restricted to things like de minimus usage and even parody.   That juries are shown pictures of Apollo laughably shows the level of discourse required to initially decide these things.
    curt12
  • Reply 19 of 27
    curt12curt12 Posts: 41member
    gatorguy said:
    Didn't she shut the site down even before the initial judgement from Alsup that favored Google? Her excuse might be lame but running away from Google/Oracle doesn't appear to be the reason, at least to me. 

    Most industry people thought Oracle would win on copyright. It was considered a slam dunk, such that nobody thought it was even necessary to put their support behind Oracle. When Aslup made his ridiculous decision they all woke up and went "WTF just happened". After the trial and when Oracle filed their appeal is when all the big industry players started submitting their amicus briefs in support or Oracle. 

    Industry players like Microsoft, who is implementing the iOS system frameworks (https://github.com/Microsoft/WinObjC) and engaging in the very practice that they argued against? One of Oracle's own products (https://www.oracle.com/linux/) was created that way, as a drop-in replacement for proprietary Unix. Reimplementing interfaces is a standard practice as old as the software industry. Oracle is the one suddenly trying to change the rules.
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 20 of 27
    redstaterredstater Posts: 49member
    It is clear that Google is guilty here, as others took out licensing agreements with Sun Microsystems, and Google themselves negotiated licensing agreements but they fell through. And Google is no longer going with their original argument, which is that Java shouldn't be subject to copyright laws at all. So what Google is trying to do is limit the judgment amount. Which will pretty much work. If Apple only got $550 million from Samsung's more clear and blatant infringement, Oracle is not going to get anywhere near $8.8 billion, if only because even if Google had signed a licensing agreement with them, it would not have paid Oracle anywhere near that much.

    Oracle is right to seek payment for their IP, but this action prevents them from making any money off Android going forward, as Google has already switched the offending APIs to a combination of their own code plus OpenJDK. I think that the talk of Google switching to another language like Apple's Swift or their own Golang is overblown: you have millions of apps written in Java that will still need a JVM to run on, and there is no "good" way around that. I think that the main issue is that Oracle bought Sun thinking that they were getting a goldmine, and they are more than a bit peeved that it didn't provide them anywhere near the windfall that they hoped.
    jbdragon
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