Oracle v Android Comes to a Boil

Google has moved for summary judgment that using Java APIs is not copyright violation. Oracle has replied. Oracle is trying to persuade the court that APIs are protectable despite much legal precedent as far back as 1879:” the Supreme Court made clear that publication of a book that explains a particular accounting system gives the author no rights under the copyright laws to prevent others from using the system, as long as no protectable expression from the book is copied. Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. 99 (1879); see also 17 U.S.C. § 102(b) (“In no case does copyright protection . . . extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.”). Oracle’s Java language books and API specifications give Oracle no greater rights to prevent implementation by others of the APIs using original code.”

This will be interesting. See GROKLAW

I don’t see that Oracle has a leg to stand on. Combined with the other angle that Google has brought out, that Google has no liability for copying done by off-shore businesses and Oracle’s case seems to be shrinking quickly.

  • patent claims are whittled down severely,
  • remaining patent claims may not be sustained against Google for copying done by others off-shore,
  • jude Alsup scolded Oracle for claiming $billions, and
  • even if copyright claims are valid they are a tiny percentage of the Android/Linux system and hardly represent significant value to Oracle in terms of money.

That sound you here is the air rushing out of Oracle’s big balloon.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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23 Responses to Oracle v Android Comes to a Boil

  1. oldman says:

    “Either MS declared Peace and backs down from their patent attacks or FOSS should plan to kill MS. IBM and others are helping Google arm up for this battle against Microsoft. This should have you waking up this is for the ages. The war you asked for Microsoft is coming are you ready.”

    Yes I am, I use both technologies remember. How about you, Mr. oiaohm. Are you ready to live in a closed source commercial software world should your management require you to?

    Again, we shall see who is more correct.

  2. oiaohm says:

    oldman Microsoft was the first to publish the idea of using patents to nuke competition off face of earth and has proceeded to follow that plan.

    http://eupat.ffii.org/players/microsoft/ Yep Microsoft published their plan to use patents as weapons against Foss in the year 1998 open release 2000.

    Yes rule of any game don’t publish you plan in advance otherwise your competition might study it and counter it.

    Guess when Motorola started spreading its FRAND counter net out. 2001 after reading the Microsoft Plan. What is a basically designed to straight up counter MS playbook.

    Where Microsoft is based around closed standards. Motorola based around open standards. Both have designed to protect self with patents. Microsoft to destroy competition. Motorola to protect competition. Motorola goal was to infect as many as able and legally be able to force the to be in a blockade against any aggressive force. Microsoft has been the aggressive force.

    Motorola FRAND will not attack anyone competition with Motorola who is not aggressive force. Basically if you go to court prove you patent is valid then take out a blockage against Motorola to make them pay the FRAND will not trigger in fact in that case Motorola cannot use its FRAND patents against you. Issue is that is not what MS has done. MS has attempted to block Motorola and others products before the patents proven valid in court. So has triggered the land mine. Problem is its a land mine with major teeth.

    “Be careful what you ask for, you may get it.”

    Yep Microsoft should have remembered that.

    Just because you can use something to crush you competition does not mean that you competition does not have the same idea as soon as you attempt it.

    Only way Microsoft could have broken Motorola FRAND was to be able to buy it. Google has basically protected Motorola from acquirement simply by Microsoft.

    Google has never published a paper with a design document to destroy open source. Yes they have published a document showing limited cooperation with open source. FOSS can live with that.

    Microsoft who has officially declared war on FOSS we cannot live with that.

    “exploiter of the open source community.”
    Why don’t exploiters of open source last long term. Its a natural process. Over time the FOSS will force more and more upstream from the exploiter as the costs of maintaining a broken away branch mount up.

    Natural processes of FOSS will deal with Google.

    Natural processes of FOSS will not deal with a Microsoft with an open plan to destroy. Microsoft declared war first. Now anyone true to FOSS will not forget this declaration.

    Either MS declared Peace and backs down from their patent attacks or FOSS should plan to kill MS. IBM and others are helping Google arm up for this battle against Microsoft. This should have you waking up this is for the ages. The war you asked for Microsoft is coming are you ready.

  3. The difference is Google has no lock-in. I am free to download my e-mail and put it wherever I want in standard formats. I am free to set up my own search engine pointing to the sites I like to visit. It would be just as fast as Google. Why bother? As long as Google is the enemy of my enemy, they are my friend. Even if they were just as evil as M$ ( and I don’t believe that for a second) they would be valuable to the world as a competitor keeping prices down. Given the good they do ( Google Summer of Code, free search, free e-mail, Street View, etc.) Google is our Fairy Godmother.

    The only negative I see in Google is that for part of their operation they prefer closed source (Android/Linux development, their own search and e-mail). I can see the justification from a business viewpoint for early developent/to market but they and the world would be better off sticking with FLOSS after they have established a product. That would lighten their load and make the products better IMHO, but as long as they do good work and are willing to do the development all on their own, it’s their choice.

    OTOH, M$ is the source of much evil in IT. They have established a malware industry bigger and more responsive than legal IT. That causes huge friction and waste of resources. Where I have worked, more was spent fighting malware than all the IT we did. Literally, there was a budget for malware. Each PC in schools throughout a region was covered by a paid licence for professional centrally-managed anti-malware and we got software for PCs both XP and GNU/Linux for $0. That money was utterly wasted as the anti-malware constantly got in the way of doing work and it did not prevent all malware because of the prolific nature of the malware industry. Then there are the anti-competitive acts. Google competes on price/performance and obviously optimizes their operation while M$ throws $billions to the wind and seeks to kill competition.

  4. oldman says:

    “But motorola is free to keep on producing other products that are not in breach of Microsoft patents the complete time. So Microsoft is screwed.”

    Perhaps, perhaps not. We shall see, Mr. Oiaohm. I would however remind you of the saying

    “Be careful what you ask for, you may get it.”

    Google is a bu$ine$$ first, mr Oiaohm , and a IMHO an exploiter of the open source community.

    I believe that they are well on their way to being a worse microsoft than Microsoft (if smarter). You believe otherwise.

    We shall see which of us is right.

  5. oiaohm says:

    DOJ and EU entities have both approved.

    oldman you really don’t know what motorola is sitting on. Who has the patents for the sim card under FRAND.

    Not just phones. Motorola patents take out anything containing a sim card. Worst they have the software patents for computer interfacing with them.

    So basically motorola uses the FRAND conditions and no other hardware maker can release the Microsoft device.

    Worse it the wording its a complete ban. So Hp and Dell sells phones right. Due to that they cannot sell a single copy of windows when FRAND is proved breached by a court of law. Yes this FRAND gets anyone who has sold device using it to be part of the blockade.

    The motorola FRAND quite simply threats to take MS off the face of earth. oldman its wording is worse is that even if Dell and HP stops selling the phones they restrictions of the FRAND still apply.

    Motorola FRAND is the worst MAD weapon in existence.

    There is a reason why Microsoft is trying to have the Motorola FRAND declared unfair competition. There is no getting away from it any other way. Microsoft will have to pay up in patents if they cannot get it ruled unfair competition. Once MS hands over the patents they attacked with Motorola will be free to draw blood with the patents they don’t have under FRAND.

    Microsoft should never ever attempt to block product sales. The Motorola FRAND response to anyone attempt to block product sales is annihilation.

    Every hardware maker these days is making something mobile. So yes this would mean no motherboards or video cards being released with Windows drivers either so they are not in breach of the Motorola FRAND.

    MAD battle Motorola wins its a full scorched earth against who ever is dumb enough to trigger it. We all suffer. Microsoft will be forced to avoid the MAD outcome. Might cost them a few billion.

    Return to desktop is not an option oldman. Microsoft has woken a Giant here. A giant that is normally quite happy to sleep and charge no one for use of there patents. Just leave Motorola alone.

    But motorola is free to keep on producing other products that are not in breach of Microsoft patents the complete time. So Microsoft is screwed.

  6. oldman says:

    “With Motorola goal that either MS forfeits the patents and refunds all payments on them or Microsoft will not be able to ship anything containing mobile chip.”

    Okay. So Microsoft Blocks google from shipping phones and then just sits back, continues to live on the profits for its returns on the desktop market and those who are paying them royalties and waits for google to come to the negotiating table.

    BTW – has have the DOJ and the EU entities approved the google purchase of morotola yet?

  7. oiaohm says:

    Injunctions not injections ineffective not in effective.

    Darn my word swap is being a pain in but.

  8. oiaohm says:

    Contrarian also you are missing a big point not all parties have settled some are going straight for Microsoft neck.

    Microsoft is being counter sued by Motorola that is now Google. With Motorola goal that either MS forfeits the patents and refunds all payments on them or Microsoft will not be able to ship anything containing mobile chip.

    Motorola has the bigger gun Contrarian. Microsoft is kinda on shaky ground.

    Yes Microsoft has made a few victories but there was no point trying to settle with Microsoft until they were trying to push product into the market. Since injections would have been in effective.

    HTC is also lining up on Apple. So apple is on shaky ground as well.

    There is a reason why Samsung is looking into releasing Meego phones. So they don’t get stuck with Android as there only option.

    We are entering MAD patent battle state Contrarian its going to get messy. Too many patent cases mobile makers will be forced to fight back. Reason 15 dollar change on a 40 dollar unit is massive.

  9. Contrarian says:

    “You miss the point…”

    Perhaps you are not being very clear as to just what your point is, #pogson. This case is not still in the courts because the facts are so plain as you suggest. Google’s Android initiative is in trouble here, pure and simple. OEMs using Android in their products are being sued on several fronts and have come to licensing agreements with Microsoft and others to settle the claims.

  10. oiaohm says:

    Contrarian and Robert Pogson if you have not worked it out yet.

    The complete and unmodified. Locking clause used by Java and Android might be limited. Ie you can modify as long as you don’t call it something it not. No longer java or android after you messed with it.

    Also Contrarian think what was in a header.

    I would say the ruling is suggesting anything public-ally exported is not covered. So limited to internal code of functions.

    This now makes the process of cloning windows 1000 times simpler. Currently wine has to wait for an application to attempt to interface with something. So it informed wine about the existence of the function. If its a non documented function.

    If google assessment is correct scrapping may be perfectly valid. Anything publicly exported up for grabs.

    Yes the Google vs Oracle case has been required for a long time to work out where the line in the sand under all the legal sand is.

  11. You miss the point. Anyone including Google can download and get the relevant licence. They can write Java applications using the API. Nothing requires Google or anyone to use the whole API in every application. That’s all Android needs, part of the API, so that folks can write Java applications that can be translated to Dalvik code. Oracle has no business messing with Google about it.

    If Oracle’s licence were to be construed that every Java application had to use the whole API, no one would write Java applications for any purpose. Imagine the bloat, a “Hello, World!” app requiring megabytes just to hold the API. The JVMs need the whole API to comply with the licence. The applications do not. Dalvik is not a JVM so it is not part of Oracle’s software. Dalvik does not use the Java API, so it’s not part of Oracle’s software. The developers use part of the Java API to write apps and to translate them to Java but that is not riding around on smart phones and tablets unless a developer installs that.

    This is all smoke to “tax” Android/Linux. It has nothing to do with copyright. I predict that Google will not settle in mediation and the courts will slap Oracle even harder than they have already (chucking patents and scaling down the potential “tax”).

  12. Contrarian says:

    “complete and unmodified”

    I think that is the catch, #pogson. If Oracle does not provide a useable implementation of java to Android, they have no license to use it. Look at all the fuss that Sun had with Microsoft and how you have to separately install java now for the IE browser. You cannot say that has nothing to do with licensing the API for any given OS.

  13. Neither Oracle nor SUN claimed no one could use the Java VM. see The Licence:
    ” License Grant. Subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement, as well as the restrictions and exceptions set forth in the Software README file, Sun grants you a non-exclusive, non-transferable, royalty-free limited license to reproduce and use the Software internally, complete and unmodified, for the sole purposes of running Programs and designing, developing and testing Programs.”

    That’s all Google did with those APIs, design, develop and test programs. Google needed nothing more than the APIs since they translated the programmes to Dalvik and ran them in their own virtual machine. The licensed use could not be made of Java without those APIs so obviously SUN gave that permission. Now Oracle wants to claw it back. If SUN granted anyone permission to use Java, they granted permission to use the APIs. Copyright does not allow for permission to be given and taken away. The licence does not exclude the case Google was making and SUN was happy with what Google was doing.

    Quick. Write a Java programme. You have to use the APIs. There’s no other way unless the programme is trivial. So now you have a copy of the API and it’s yours, not SUN’s, not Oracle’s.

  14. Chuckle. Oracle is criticising Google for not copying the entirety of Java…

  15. Contrarian says:

    The idea of a function and a declaration of a math function is doubless not subject to copyright, #pogson, I would agree with that. But it is not the definition of any individual thing that forms the unique expression. Rather it is the entity formed by the entirety of the parts that is potentially unique. That would be the overall structure of the java. classes or perhaps the structure of a major subsecetion

  16. oiaohm says:

    Contrarian and Robert Pogson the google case is the case where the precedent of fair use of headers test case being tested.

    “BTW, “headers” in a progam source are rather passe today. A leftover from the old C/C++, if you can still find it. C#, F#, java, even VB don’t have these old things.”
    That is the issue Contrarian the test case is very old. Does not cover binaries. This is expanding this.

    Different law schools believed different things. Some had the idea that the api layout could be protected by copyright if it was unique. Some had the idea the layout was not protected and could not be covered. For all the havoc in the SEGA case for emulators this was not covered.

    Really the google vs oracle case is a important case for Wine and DosBox as well.

    Yes this is one section of the case I was watching for what way it was going. Since this can now make Wine reversing process simpler since there will now be a define for this.

  17. “The”! I just copied that out of a book. Sue me…

    Really, the interfaces between pieces of code are not creative/expressive. They are like the language in which an application is written. Writing something in Java does not give me control over Java and it does not require me to have a licence for Java.

    Function sqrt(x:real):real; does not violate copyright of any code. Everyone who writes something to calculate the real square root of a real number will need something like that. It is a mathematical concept, not a protectable work. You cannot copyright such things. The same goes for any API. Describing the means of communication is not telling the story.

    see idea/expression dichotomy.

    “From the 1976 Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 102):
    In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.”

    The idea of square root is thus not copyrightable and the API communicating with a piece of code to calculate square root is not either because all it does is describe that idea. There are an infinite number of ways square root could be calculated and each can be protected by copyright. There are limited/non-creative ways of describing the API. You could rename the procedure or the variables in the data structure but the idea remains the same.

  18. Contrarian says:

    BTW, “headers” in a progam source are rather passe today. A leftover from the old C/C++, if you can still find it. C#, F#, java, even VB don’t have these old things.

  19. Contrarian says:

    “Anyone copying those headers and writing their own code to implement it has not copied the application”

    Tell it to the judge, #pogson, not me. When I was working, our lawyers had pretty much the same idea about program structure as I outlined. We were told never, ever to do what you say is OK. They went to some fine law schools, too. Where did you go?

  20. Nonsense. There are legal precedents. Read Google’s motion.

    The headers in an application are perhaps 1% of the code. Anyone copying those headers and writing their own code to implement it has not copied the application. Courts know that. I can copy your name without copying you, thank Goodness.

  21. Contrarian says:

    “There its no sensitive ruling that there weren’t protectable pieces that google may have copied.”

    The copyright issue is centered on whether the fundamental structure of java itself is a “unique expression” as needed to claim copyright. There is a lot of argument on both sides and very little applicable case law.

    Say, for example, that you took the source code for some GPL protected program and commenced, with a word processor/editor, to rename each and every variable name, class name, function name, method definition, etc., with something of your own. The result would, of course, have the same fundamental structure and would operate identically. Would it be a new work or considered as a derivative work of the original?

    Most legal analyses would still consider it to be a copy although if you looked at any part of it in detail, there would be substantive differences. Now play around with the methods in the classes and adjust the ways that things are managed within. Does that make it unique? That is what Google has done to jave, but the original structure remains.

    I think that a win for Google here on the java issue would open the door for any and all open source programs to be parted out and re-worked as proprietary works. The only way to maintain ownership of code would be to jealously guard the source.

    At the end of the day, Google is going to lose this one and have to settle. Similarly, the Droid phones are going to be paying Apple and Microsoft in order to exist as well. I don’t think Android is going to survive that.

  22. Pogson's #1 fan says:

    That should be “There is no definitive ruling”

  23. Pogson's #1 fan says:

    Yes because if google claims something it must
    be 100% true right? Secondly your own citation on that court case isn’t nearly as black and white as you claim.

    ” as long as no protectable expression from
    the book is copied.”

    This is an important clause you glossed over. There its no sensitive ruling that there weren’t protectable pieces that google may have copied.

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