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Did Google Knowingly Violate Java Patents?

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  • by v1 (525388) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @08:34PM (#36743276) Homepage Journal

    may have been a simple "we see you have patented xyz, would you consider our doing abc a violation, and if so, what's licensing going to cost?"

    answer may have been along the lines of "pretty much anything you do we may try to sue you for, so you'd be better off paying us a ton of money upfront now". "OK, no thanks, we'll take our chances in court."

    Or it may have been something completely different. But that's just my guess.

    • by poetmatt (793785) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @08:55PM (#36743434) Journal

      where was the "florian mueller contributed to the article" and it's completely unreliable warning?

      This isn't about groklaw, but nothing shows for the judge asking anything other than telling Oracle to explain where it's magic numbers came from [groklaw.net]. Oh and potentially google seeking discovery sanctions on oracle but it has not been raised by google. [groklaw.net] That's about it. If this had actually linked groklaw somewhere, which it didn't. There is no "danger" for google in any form, nor did the judge imply it was plausible that google did anything. Where does TFS or the article make that shit up?

      The only person who filed today was google, not the judge. So where does this shit come from? This article is fud.

      • by dch24 (904899) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @09:18PM (#36743592) Journal
        Does a headline that ends in a question mark set off your red flags?
        Can I convince you to buy this bridge I'm selling by hinting at it using a question?
        What if I cobble together a tiny tidbit of info from groklaw with a really inflammatory headline, will slashdot publish it?

        I hope Oracle's lawyers get fired for this case.
        • its a legitimate question.

          think about the last time you saw robmalda.

          now think about the last time someone got murdered with an axe.

          coincidence?

          you see, it all goes back to Woodrow Wilson...

        • Does a headline that ends in a question mark set off your red flags?
          Can I convince you to buy this bridge I'm selling by hinting at it using a question?
          What if I cobble together a tiny tidbit of info from groklaw with a really inflammatory headline, will slashdot publish it?

          You decide!

      • by bonch (38532) *

        There is no "danger" for google in any form, nor did the judge imply it was plausible that google did anything.

        Uh...

        "In reading the Daubert briefing, it appears possible that early on Google recognized that it would infringe patents protecting at least part of Java, entered into negotiations with Sun [Microsystems] to obtain a license for use in Android, then abandoned the negotiations as too expensive, and pushed home with Android without any license at all," Alsup wrote in the letter filed in US District

        • by wrook (134116)

          I think the point is that if you google for the words in the letter, they don't show up anywhere except the article. I don't really understand this stuff but since other articles filed by the court are available on the web, wouldn't this letter also be there? Maybe I should use a different search engine (ha ha!). Groklaw also hasn't reported this letter either.

          Furthermore, doing more searches I can't find anyone else reporting this letter except TFA (although a *lot* of sites have reprinted it or linked

    • by Artifakt (700173)

      Recent patent law rulings have made staying supposedly, deliberately ignorant of what the competition does in the same field less and less of a defense. Depending on just what the questions were, we may well be seeing the capstone case where several district courts have, between them, created an interpretation where the defending side is always "damned if they do, damned if they don't" regardless of the equities of the situation. If the questions were anything like you suggested, expect this one to be the c

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      may have been a simple "we see you have patented xyz, would you consider our doing abc a violation...

      That's my guess too. It's just another sign that the patent system is broken when you don't even know if you're violating a patent or not.

  • by Haedrian (1676506) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @08:40PM (#36743324)

    Is that, given that patents are uh subjective, AND that Sun was quite a nice company to open source stuff (that's the impression I have), I think Google said:

    "Hmm, if we do X, we might hit on a patent and get a lawsuit, lets see if we can clear it off with Sun, since they're reasonable".

    Then when Oracle bought Sun, pretty more for the patents, they decided to take a risk.

    That's my opinion on this matter. I don't know anything internally.

    • If Sun was such a nice company, it became more incumbent, not less, for Google to send a few $million their way, don't you think?

      Sun open sourced Java, but not for mobile.

      Actually, even if they had, if Google wanted to truly be "not evil", they would have found a way to give some money to a staggering, but highly innovative company.

      The only problem with that would be shareholders who would whine, "Why are you giving free money away when you don't have to?"

      The fig leaf to protect Google from the "not increa

      • Is there a specific place where Sun said they exclude Java on mobile stuff?

        • ob disc: I used to work at sun.

          I heard mr java himself give a talk (I think it was at the java 10th anniv party at the santa clara campus, a few yrs back) and he seemed to say that mobile java (something about south america, too, I didn't quite get that) was a HUGE thing for sun. almost the reason for java to exist (the way he talked about java on mobile phones).

          bonus: I found 2 photos that I took from that event:

          http://farm1.static.flickr.com/221/472512518_4f70840cd2_z.jpg [flickr.com]
          http://farm1.static.flickr.com/20 [flickr.com]

          • I once heard 'Mr. Java' talk about how Oak was going to run on television remote controls and make them better. It may be that one of the reasons for Android's success is that Google was finally able to build a very good Java runtime for mobile. Or perhaps the hardware just finally got powerful enough, but it's a far cry from the microcontroller or 'java processor' design concept.

            • by Briareos (21163) *

              I once heard 'Mr. Java' talk about how Oak was going to run on television remote controls and make them better.

              Well, if it weren't for Android I'm pretty sure we still wouldn't have Java-based TV remotes [android.com]...

        • by Compaqt (1758360) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @02:50AM (#36745480) Homepage

          This is pretty generally know if you've been following Java, but since you ask:

          The Java Runtime license [redhat.com] states:

          "Software embedded in or bundled with industrial control systems, wireless mobile telephones, wireless handheld devices, kiosks, TV/STB, Blu-ray Disc devices, telematics and network control switching equipment, printers and storage management systems, and other related systems are excluded from this definition and not licensed under this Agreement."

          As for the open source release, that's covered under the Java Language Spec patent grant.

          That only covers fully-conforming versions, not sub or supersets.

          http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Java_and_patents [swpat.org]

          It was Sun's intention to give Java away on the desktop, and charge for embedded use.

  • Probably (Score:1, Insightful)

    by garethw (584688)
    Who cares? How does Google's leveraging off Java deprive Sun revenue from its R&D? You know, like what patents are intended for? Fucking lawyers. Unable to create any real value themselves, they resort to contriving some for themselves by destroying it for many others. Utterly, utterly ignoble profession.
    • If I'm an inventor why should I have to build a factory? Not everyone wants to be an end-to-end mega-corporation. Maybe even a mega-corporation invests a lot of time and money into something and discovers it's not a product they want to sell but is still valuable and could be offered by someone else?

      I have an application that I wrote that we aren't using at the company any more. That doesn't mean I can just take that application and start selling it. My employer spent a lot of money on development.

      • by mug funky (910186)

        patents != copyright.

        and presumably your former employer broke even on the software they have no use for anymore? they'd have budgeted for that, right? if so, then any patents are a potential extra revenue stream, but certainly not the incentive to invent the software.

        it would be similar to charging your local council for the privilege of collecting your garbage, because you have rights over that garbage.

      • because more likely than not, some of your code violates someones patents, and they could sue your company.

        you thought that R&D was a positive, but now you could go bankrupt!

        better to not invent anything at all.

        yay capitalism.

        • because more likely than not, some of your code violates someones patents, and they could sue your company.

          its true; and as time goes on, it gets truer, still.

          I've heard this said (forgot who said it, but he was a smart man) that a real reason why companies don't opensource things like drivers is because it only makes it easier for other trolls to look at their code and find, via coincidence or not, come patent violation.

          so companies are *motivated* to not release source since it does give them protection.

          i

    • Both of you seem to assume garethw is attacking the IP holders when, to me, it seems like he's attacking the lawyers that twist, bend, and distort law until it makes them fat loads of cash, helping few others in return. ie. The Lawyers buy boats, everyone else loses.

      I don't necessarily believe IP/patents/etc should last as long as they do; 5 years tops and after that, public domain. however, the system has been so abused and corrupted that it's more harm than good at this point.
      • Yes, because companies like Oracle are just tricked into lawsuits by lawyers so that they can lose money. Uhh, yeah you're full of shit.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Who cares? How does Microsoft's leveraging off Java deprive Sun revenue from its R&D? FTFY.

      Lets call a spade a spade folks, you can't say it is bad for one company because you don't like them but wonderful for a different company to pull the same shit because they make you squee like a fangirl.

      • by Compaqt (1758360)

        Yeah, the suit against MS was one billion dollar lawsuit that geeks cheered on. The reason for the suit was MS fracturing Java.

        Of course, that's what Google's doing with Android, as well.

        The reason it gets a pass is simply because it's Google.

  • by mrflash818 (226638) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @08:44PM (#36743352) Homepage Journal

    "Oracle v. Google - Google Moves to Supplement Its Invalidity Defenses"

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20110712074100640 [groklaw.net]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Google probably thought that the patents were not valid, but thought that if it were least expensive to license them, they would do it that way. When it wasn't the least expensive way to do it, they chose to proceed and litigate.

    • by DJRumpy (1345787)

      This is damaging in the fact that Google knew that there were patent issues since they tried to seek licensing for them. If they then later claim that there are no patent issues, it shoots a big hole in their defense.

      • Except for the fact that software patents are so vague that it is impossible to tell what violates patents and what doesn't. Until we finally decide to abolish patents, no one can ever know for sure if something will be in violation of a patent or not.

        Most likely Google asked Sun how much money it would cost to license the patent for X because Google had no possible way of knowing if something would violate that patent or not, obviously the price of "protection money" on something that may or may not be
      • by sjames (1099)

        In a world where the wheel, teasing a cat with a laser pointer, and swinging side to side on a swingset are patented, just getting up in the morning has potential patent issues.

        There are many good reasons for Google to want to make sure their non-infringing work doesn't end up dragged in to court anyway. Apparently the "insurance" was way too expensive.

        How does that in any way damage their case?

        • by DJRumpy (1345787)

          Probably due to the fact that they are being sued for infringement? Just a guess mind you....

          A court can look at facts like these to determine intent, and if it does turn out that Google attempted to get licensing on the very items they are being sued on, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that this will damage their case.

          • by sjames (1099)

            The court could look at intent if it mattered to the case, but it can't just spin stories of guilt, it would have to have some factual evidence that the innocent interpretation isn't the true case. There isn't any that we know of.

  • I sincerely hope the Judge is smart enough to spot a failure of jurisprudence on behalf of the Patenting Authority. If these patents had been judged correctly the first time, this mess would never of had to been bothered with. I also can’t blame Google for disregarding unrealistic claims of property regarding common-sense programming advancements. The claims are likely rationally un-defendable, like nearly all software patents these days.
  • A better question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by c0lo (1497653) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @08:58PM (#36743462)
    Call me a dreamer, but instead of Did Google Knowingly Violate Java Patents? question, wouldn't it sound better better the Did Google know that SUN's patents were invalid and thus there was nothing to violate or pay for? or even Did Google know software patents are invalid?
    • its a good question, think about the last time you saw larry ellison.

      now think about the last time you saw a murdered prostitute.

      coincidence?

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        its a good question, think about the last time you saw larry ellison.

        now think about the last time you saw a murdered prostitute.

        coincidence?

        Before using the "correlation/causation" meme, thanks for assuming I'm a good guy that never saw a murdered prostitute. While true in my case, it isn't necessarily to be so for all the readers of /. that never saw one of the two but actually saw the other - in such cases, your "coincidence question" will not even reach the "correlation/causation" stage.

        I'm not sure however what you intend to suggest. I'm afraid of a suggestion on the line that "being a dreamer, one wishes that Larry Ellison would actually

        • that when a prostitute is murdered, someone has to have been the murderer.

          critics point out that sometimes people are murdered without anyone actually murdering them.

          (i.e. my elaboration is that headlines and news stories can be really, really wrong)

          • by c0lo (1497653)

            (i.e. my elaboration is that headlines and news stories can be really, really wrong)

            Yes, you are right in this respect, even when you use totally improper argumentation.

            that when a prostitute is murdered, someone has to have been the murderer.

            Correct. You don't need studies (do they actually exist?), the simple definition of murder [wikipedia.org] is enough.

            critics point out that sometimes people are murdered without anyone actually murdering them.

            Those critics must be wrong. The murderer by the very definition of the term [wikipedia.org] has to be a person, thus someone (as opposed to anyone/nobody).

            However, what is the relation of your elaboration (thanks for it) with my post? The post expressing the wish that Google chose to go ahead with Dalvik after, upon studies, they discover

    • " in order for an invention to be patentable, it must not only be novel, but it must also be a nonobvious improvement over the prior art" - http://www.bitlaw.com/patent/requirements.html#nonobvious [bitlaw.com] No joke, the "Upgrade" button is a patent the United States Patent and Trademark Office is currently holding as a protected I.P.. They've clearly failed to perform their due diligence regarding what are technical innovations versus only Trade Secrets. I believe the root of this problem is due to the exponentia
    • "Patents, eh?", he asked him knowingly.

    • Correct, the fact that Google offered to license the patents does not,in and of itself, indicate that Google thought the patents were valid. All it means is that Google was aware that they existed. It is distinctly possible that they thought it might be cheaper to license the patents from Sun than to challenge their validity in court. When Sun wanted more than that, Google decided to go ahead and let Sun/Oracle take them to court.
  • This is not news. Yes, google sought a green light from sun. So what? Dalvik is not Java, which is an insurmountable hurdle.
    • by bonch (38532) *

      Well, shit, who needs a court system when "Barbara, not Barbie" of Slashdot has dismissed the case?

    • by fidget42 (538823)
      More appropriately, Dalvik is not the JVM. Dalvik does run Java, compiled to Java byte code then converted for the Dalvik engine.
      • by bogaboga (793279)

        I agree with you on all issues save for the fact that, ``...Dalvik does run Java...``

        Since this is Slashdot, the more accurate thing to say would be to mention,

        ``Dalvik runs programs written in the Java programming language...``

    • Dalvik is not Java, which is an insurmountable hurdle.

      Which means jack and shit. The patent, if held to be valid, in no way is only applicable if the implementation is of the Java language.

    • by MadKeithV (102058)

      google sought a green light from sun

      Not surprising they didn't get it, since sun's light is white.

  • I think they just tried to work around the only profitable aspect of Java. I'm sure if they thought they would be liable and have to pay for it, they would have just used something else. Not to mention that using Java was more like doing Sun a favor than anything else, despite the implementation. It kept Java relevant while Sun was dying. Google also helped popularize OpenOffice.

    I think Sun should have filed the suit before being bought by Oracle. I've heard arguments that they couldn't afford to or whateve

  • Isn't the more logical interpretation that google saw that java already had a history in the mobile space, and rather than re-invent the wheel decided it would be cheaper and simpler to use a java VM, and went to sun to licence the patents needed to do that. That failed, so they said 'alrighty then' and wrote the clean-room dalvik VM which differs from java in a lot of key design decisions. Isn't that how the patent system is supposed to work?

    If they'd tried to licence the java patents AFTER they'd written

  • From TFA:

    Overall, Alsup seems to be increasing the pressure on both Oracle and Google to settle, according to Florian Mueller, a blogger who closely tracks open-source software legal matters.

    "Yesterday's order concerning the possibility of a staywas bad news for Oracle," Mueller said via e-mail. "Today's notice looks like a clear signal to Google that they should recognize their obligation to pay. But the problem is that Oracle's demands are apparently way above anything that Google could pay without changing its Android business model from 'free-of-charge' to 'fee-based.' I don't know whether Oracle will reduce its demands substantially in order to enable a near-term settlement."

    • There's an irritating trend in Slashdot discussions to cite bogeymen to dismiss any news that may be negative toward some protagonist of the community, such as Google. "Oh, there's a statement from Florian Mueller, so the entire article is FUD even though the judge really did ask those questions in his letter. I'm not listening, la-la-la."

      • When someone is as consistently wrong as Florian, or *World.com, then it's less effort to just ignore everything they say, rather than check everything and find the small percentage of times when they happen to be coincidentally right. Magic 8 Ball is more accurate than these sources.
        • by Compaqt (1758360)

          OK, you might not like the source, for whatever reason. But:

          "In reading the Daubert briefing, it appears possible that early on Google recognized that it would infringe patents protecting at least part of Java, entered into negotiations with Sun [Microsystems] to obtain a license for use in Android, then abandoned the negotiations as too expensive, and pushed home with Android without any license at all," Alsup wrote in the letter filed in US District Court for the Northern District of California.

          That's the

  • Maybe this has been tried... But if Oracle or Google or Microsoft... Someone with these lawyers on retainer... Will please patent or reverse patent or trademark "first post" and kindly sue Anonymous, we slashdoters will be eternally grateful and go red sox.
  • Or am I alone in the belief that the current patent system is a royal pain in the ass and needs to be scrapped?
  • ...DEFINITELY smarter than the corporate trolls making this patent mess.

    "... as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously."

    How his ideas didn't come to more fully pervade our nascent and now crumbling and corrupt democracy, I shall never know.

    • by dudpixel (1429789)

      patents only serve the interests of the individual who owns them.

      On the other hand, the removal of patents would probably de-motivate people from releasing inventions at all.

      We need some middle ground, most likely in the form of a maximum patent term of only a couple of years so that the inventor gets a head start, but no more...and after 2 years, everyone benefits.

      Why should everyone benefit? because technological advancement is a higher goal than just getting rich.

      • by crhylove (205956)

        Agreed. Both copyright and patent should be limited to no more than 5 years. If you can't make money by then, go and invent something else you lazy bastard!

  • A rational reason to inquire about patents you don't think you actually violate is to avoid being shaken down by a patent troll about them. As the tangled web of patent lawsuits in the industry indicates, the likelihood of an illegitimate shakedown is worth a great deal of vigilance. How many companies pay out hundreds of millions a year in licensing of illegitimate patents because they figure it's cheaper than litigating and losing a lawsuit lottery?
  • muelleralert, so i know when to avoid the article.
  • by paulsnx2 (453081) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @10:25PM (#36744032)

    Nobody sells a high tech product without knowing that it infringes on some patent you don't own or have license to!!!

    EVERY SINGLE COMPANY that ships a smart phone today, KNOWS that they are infringing on a patent held by someone else!

    There are over 50 companies that hold at least 300 patents each covering smart phone technology. Who knows how many companies hold patents over various manufacturing technologies used. There are thousands of patents out there on many very basic software techniques. IBM, Motorola, HP, Intel, Apple, HTC, Samsung, Google, Microsoft, all hold thousands of patents that more or less apply to Smart phones and computers. And there are tons more. These are the guys that produce products. Many, many patents are held by trolls that produce nothing but lawsuits.

    How then can any company hope to build a product that is free and clear of patents?

    If knowing you might have patent issues means something significant, then ban all high tech products! Including frankly most medicines. Including every modern car. Including every T.V. Including ever significant piece of software!

    In light of this rather obvious fact, what is the point this Judge is trying to make? How is any product any different?

    • by mochan_s (536939)

      EVERY SINGLE COMPANY that ships a smart phone today, KNOWS that they are infringing on a patent held by someone else!

      I wouldn't say KNOWs. Software patent claims are vague and general that violations are open to interpretation.

      Also there are so many software patents out there that have 50-60 claims where most claims that are obvious. You could implement something and that would violate a patent you didn't know existed.

      • by paulsnx2 (453081)

        But a smart phone isn't just about software patents, as my post indicates. You have hardware patents, business patents, process patents, software patents all at play in smart phones.

        You are going to tell me that they didn't know they had to infringe on some of these?

    • by tgd (2822)

      I wouldn't assume that. There's definitely a patent thicket related to cell phone technology, but for the most part all of the companies involved have cross licensed all their patents with each other. You see battles like this come up when you get a company (Oracle) that isn't a cellphone company and thus not part of the cross-licensing that wants a piece of the action, or you see it when companies (like Apple vs Samsung) decide they can't effectively compete and try to find areas in their portfolio that ar

      • by paulsnx2 (453081)

        Infringing is infringing. As you point out, not having a product in the game is an advantage.

        But how does this defend the system?

        How can any new companies (without patent portfolios) enter the market?

        Lastly, knowing that your product infringes on patents isn't the same as knowing it infringes on particular patents. The latter would be required for triple penalties.

    • I totally agree that it's completely impossible to create a product without infringing patents, especially software patents. The whole system is absurd.

      Still, the issue here is whether Google knew about the _specific_ patents that Oracle is suing about. That's the point the judge is trying to make.

      Hopefully the whole thing will be irrelevant if the patents are shown to be invalid (Google found lots of prior art).

      • by paulsnx2 (453081)

        Google very likely knew about the patents, but in this game the particular patents are of little issue. Most likely, they just wanted a broad license to any patents Sun had, and didn't do any study of particular patents. I am not sure why they would, as that would just increase their liability, and would not have helped them anyway.

  • If any patent is valid and infringed, then google may have some 'splainin to do about why they didn't think it was.

    This line of questioning might have nothing at all to do with whether any of the patents are actually valid or infringed. It might just have to do with whether, if it was done, it was done willfully.

    OTOH, it may be the judge's strategy to try to get google thinking about possible treble damages. He's probably trying for anything that might lead to a sooner settlement and cut his workload.

  • Google has tried to negotiate the right to use the patents. As it has failed, Google has done all the technical possible efforts (dalvick, ...) in order to avoid patent violation and still have a fast and usable language.
    I think that Google has been very creative to keep the language syntax and the libraries almost identical (they are both patent free) and to not copy any other aspects of Java.
    If a real patent (not trivial, ...) has still been violated, either it is a small violation that could be fixed by
    • Is there such a thing as a `real` software patent?

      if it is can I get a `real` garbage collector to clean up my room once in a while?

  • If this judge were honest, they'd see that until they invalidated the patents, Google was forced to negotiate to license them first. Google is just trying to do some "progress in science and the useful arts" despite those patents. But patent holders like Sun have no obligation to allow their government-issued monopoly to be used for progress. In fact they practically always obstruct progress by others until their price is paid.

    Just because you offer to give some gangster your wallet when they have their gun

  • It seems to me that the court shouldn't use some negotiation against them. We live in a day and age where it's often cheaper to pay off an invalid patent claim than to try to fight it, so every company has to figure out what it's going to cost them to make a deal up front.

    It seems to me, that's not an admission by the defendant that they thought the patent would be infringed, or was valid - simply that they were trying to decide if it was worth fighting or not.

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