Oracle vs. Google over Java

Oracle suing Google over its use of Java in Android should frighten any company that develops with Java.

By , ITworld |  Open Source, Google, java

Oracle is suing Google over the use of Java in Android and that may change everything about Java and open-source development.

That's one heck of a claim. Unfortunately, the experts agree.

Java, while never a key language in Linux, is the core language for literally hundreds of software development companies and organizations. They range in size from IBM with its J9 JVM (Java Virtual Machine) and Red Hat with its JBoss middleware stack to pure open-source projects such as the Apache/Jakarta, to individual developers who are members of the Java Community Process (JCP). It's hard to think of a software development business that doesn't use its own house-brew of Java somewhere in its product line or development stack.

Since, Oracle is an open-source company, complete with its own Linux distribution, the Red Hat-based Unbreakable Linux, you might be wondering why Oracle is doing this. James Gosling, Java's creator, thinks it's because Oracle wants money: "Oracle finally filed a patent lawsuit against Google. Not a big surprise. During the integration meetings between Sun and Oracle where we were being grilled about the patent situation between Sun and Google, we could see the Oracle lawyer's eyes sparkle. Filing patent suits was never in Sun's genetic code."

Maybe it is though for Oracle. Certainly, Oracle has never been averse to going to the courtroom mats during its long history of hostile takeovers, such as its acquisition of PeopleSoft.

Oracle can go after Google because, while Java's previous owner Sun, did open-source Java under the GPLv2, the Java specification patent grants that went along with it, are only valid if developers use fully-compliant Java implementation. Many, perhaps most, developers have used a variety of open-source Java implementations that aren't fully compliant. This leaves them potentially vulnerable to hostile Oracle lawsuits.

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