The Quotation That Broke Oracle’s Copyright Claims

Oracle has been going on about how Google illegally copied Java’s APIs in violation of Oracle’s copyright. In a hearing back in December, Google brought forth this quotation from Jonathan Schwartz’s testimony to Congress years earlier:
“When we discuss interfaces, it is important to carefully note the distinction between an interface specification and an actual product, which has interfaces that conform to the specification.

Interface specifications are merely the words that describe the interface and which allows two components to work together or interoperate. They are not blueprints nor recipes for actual products. Let me repeat that, interface specifications are not blueprints nor recipes for making knockoffs or clones.

With respect to intellectual property rights, Sun strongly believes in and will defend the rights of intellectual property owners to maximize their returns on product implementations. At that same time, we believe that interface specifications are not protectable under copyright.”

Public statements like that by SUN were what Google relied upon when it created Android which implements some of the Java APIs. SUN actually encouraged the development of Android as a key promotion of Java. Android was good for everyone. Oracle’s case is very weak and I wonder why the judge is considering a two-month trial. I guess lawyers need the work.

In the end, the judge did rule that that testimony should be excluded:
“anything that happened long before 2006 is too far removed from Sun’s policy and industry custom and usage at the time of the alleged infringement. Historical information that is too old has only marginal relevance to Google’s equitable defenses. And any marginal relevance would be greatly outweighed by the unfair prejudice, waste of time, and confusion from presenting to the jury statements and documents from the last century as indicative of Sun’s policy and industry custom at the time of alleged infringement in 2006.”

That makes no sense to me because legal precedents don’t expire and lawyers and companies do not make law. Still, SUN clearly was talking with Google in 2006 and SUN still seemed happy with Google as long as they did not call Android “Java” and Google did not.

“Importantly, testimony and evidence regarding Oracle’s and Sun’s policies and practices after January 1, 2006, is not excluded even if those same policies and practices began before 2006.”

Indeed, Google filed this with the court later:
“II. Apache never agreed to a field-of-use restriction, and Sun never objected to the use by Apache and others of the Hava language APIs.

Jonathan Schwartz, Sun’s CEO from 2006 to 2020, testified that, [REDACTED]

1 See, Apache License, Version 2.0, available at Version 2. of the General Public License, the open source license that governs use of GNU Classpath, similarly has no field0of0use restriction. See General Public License, Version 2.0, available at


Schwartz Dep. at 49:11-50:10; see also id at 47:17-23 [REDACTED] However, “In order to call your product Java, and in order to feature to the marketplace that you were a Java phone or a Java device and to get that brand, you needed to pass that the — the TCKs, the Testing [sic] Compatibility Kits.” Id. at 46:17-21.
Starting in August 2006, Apache attempted to obtain from Sun a license to the J2SE 5.0 technology compatibility kit (“TCK”). The license to the TCK (i.e., to the suite of compatibility tests) that Sun offered to Apache would have limited the use of Apache Harmony to certain fields of use. Apache, however, never agreed to such a limitation.

In May 2007, with no TCK license in place for Apache Harmony, Schwartz publicly stated, “there is no reason that Apache cannot ship Harmony today.” Trial Ex. 2341; Schwartz Depl. at 51:15-22. According to Schwartz, however, Apache, “wanted, in fact, to be able to call Harmony Java. And we held firm and said no, that’s our core value. If you want to call it Java, you can pay, you know, the fee to go run the test and compatibility kits, and that enable you to tell your customers that you actually had a licensed Java runtime. But absent that statement, they, you know, couldn’t say that, and they were frustrated by it.” Schwartz Dep. at 52:16-23.

In June 2007, Apache wrote an open letter to Sun, requesting a TCK license without a field-of-use restriction. That same month, in an effort spearheaded by Oracle Corporation, twelve signatories, including a Google Engineering VP, urged Schwartz to grant Apache an unencumbered TCK license. See Trial Ex. 2347. Sun, however, refused. Because Apache was unwilling to agree any field-of-use restriction, it did not license the TCK. As a result, Apache did not agree to — and never has agreed to — a field-of-use limitation for Apache Harmony.

The lack of a TCK license, however, did not prevent others from use Apache Harmony:


Schwartz Dep. at 83:15-84:7. Even without at TCK license, “[a]nybody else who wanted to go create their own runtime, whether it was Apache Harmony or GNU Classpath, was free to do so; they just couldn’t call it Java.” Id. at 182:2-5. Mr. Schwartz will testify that commercial products from IBM and Hewlett-Packard used the Apache Harmony implementation fo the Java language APIs without objection from Sun.
III. There is no field-of-use restriction for Apache Harmony.

The dispute between Apache and Sun was about branding, and the ability to say that Apache Harmony is Java compatible. The end result was that Apache did not agree to a field-of-use restriction. Notwithstanding Apache’s refusal to limit the field of use for Apache Harmony, Sun never sued Apache. In fact, Sun’s CEO has testified that anyone can use the Apache Harmony code (and thus its implementation of the Java language API specifications) — so long as it does not call its product “Java.”

Finally, Google in any event does not call Android “Java.” Google has used the term “Java” in its nominative, non-brand sense to describe, for example, how developers can use the free and open Java programming language to write applications for the Android platform. That, however, is not an attempt to brand the Android product “Java.” Indeed, Oracle’s complaint does not include a trademark infringement count. Oracle’s field-of-use restriction argument is irrelevant and should be rejected.”

So, Oracle is toast on copyrights and just about everything in its claims. If the judge does not kick out Oracle’s case, the jury will.

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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