May 24, 2012, 10:01 AM —
Most observers are applauding Google its successes in the Oracle v. Google case... but not everyone is thrilled about it.
The jury for the Oracle vs. Google trial delivered their verdict for the second phase of the case--the patent phase--and as you probably know by know, found absolutely no patent infringement on the part of Google.
With no patent infringement found, and only minor infringement found in the earlier copyright phase of the trial, Judge William Alsup dismissed the jurors early, since the planned damages phase was pretty much rendered moot by yesterday's decision.
The trial is not over, of course: Alsup will probably rule on damages himself, and there's still his ruling on the copyrightability of application programming interfaces to come sometime next week. That API ruling is now arguably the most important remaining part of the case.
Industry reaction has been generally positive for Google, since many seemed to view Oracle's attempt to sue Google as a way to get their piece of the Android pie. Many postulated that an Oracle win in this case would also irreparably harm Java; since a litigiously successful Oracle on the prowl for Java royalties might discourage many developers from even touching Java.
But the positive reaction to the second-phase decision is not universal: James Gosling, the inventor of Java once employed by Sun Microsystems and Oracle, was less than thrilled.
"Court cases are never about right and wrong, they're about the law and what you can convince a jury of," Gosling wrote on his personal blog Wednesday evening. "For those of us at Sun who felt trampled-on and abused by Google's callous self-righteousness, I would have preferred a different outcome--not from the court case as much as from events of years past."
Gosling's statements are a reminder that sometimes there is more than just financial statements involved in such lawsuits--personal feelings of loss and damage are often a part of them, too. But Gosling's remarks are a bit unclear, particularly given that he himself was a Google employee from March 2011 to February 2012. Indeed, one of his patents (RE38,104) was involved in Oracle's patent infringement suit against Google.
If Google was indeed so callous, then why work for them at all?
Based on testimony in the trial, and remarks from Gosling and others, it's clear that whether they meant to or not, Google very much irked people at Sun Microsystems when Google decided to bypass Java and go with a clean-room implementation of Java in the form of the Dalvik VM in Android. And "irked" is probably an understatement.
But sadly, you can't really sue people for being jerks. And there's also the argument that Sun may have forced Google's hand by dual-licensing Java under the GPL and a proprietary license for commercial use. That was certainly Sun's prerogative, of course, but it doesn't completely jibe with their much-touted "Java is free" mantra.
The API question, still outstanding, will now have the biggest impact on the software industry. For Oracle, the claims it has against Android have just evaporated, and it's now time to move on.
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