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Sun CEO Explicitly Endorsed Java's Use In Android 204

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-he-was-in-on-the-plot dept.
An anonymous reader writes "ZDNet writes: 'If you believe Oracle's patent lawsuits against Google for its use of Java in Android, Google has stolen not just patented ideas but directly copied Java code. In short, Google is a red-handed thief and should pay Oracle over a billion in damages. There's just one little problem with this portrayal of Google as an intellectual property (IP) bandit. When Android first came out, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, then Java's owner, greeted the news with 'heartfelt congratulations.' Whoops.'"
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Sun CEO Explicitly Endorsed Java's Use In Android

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  • As they saying goes, never let the truth get in the way of a good story!

    If there's a financial gain to be made, and the judge seems to think that Oracle at least have some legitimate claim deep within their case, then this won't change much.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @07:04AM (#36881596) Journal
      There is probably some argument, however tenuous, that merely having Sun's CEO publicly praise the use of basically-java in Android didn't actually constitute implicit permission to use whatever java-related patented techniques are at question.

      Even if that side of things pans out, though, it certainly makes it a bit harder to make the argument that Google was willfully infringing(which would potentially up the damages significantly), since that isn't exactly the sound of a CEO who is getting willfully-infringed upon...
      • Re:Won't stop Oracle (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @07:18AM (#36881674) Journal
        It doesn't seem very relevant if it happened when Android was first released. Back then, Google was shouting loudly that they were using Java. Schwartz probably read this and said 'well done, using Java is great!' Then, on closer inspection, it turned out that Google was using almost-Java, which is not something they were too happy about.
        • by Xest (935314)

          I'd be amazed if the CEO of Sun, the company that created and owned Java at the time didn't actually know what strain of Java or what Google had done to Java in Android.

        • by sjames (1099)

          It is quite relevant unless Oracle can SHOW that Schwartz was being deceived at the time. Otherwise you don't get to flip-flop and sue someone for an action you endorsed at the time.

      • There is probably some argument, however tenuous, that merely having Sun's CEO publicly praise the use of basically-java in Android didn't actually constitute implicit permission to use whatever java-related patented techniques are at question.

        But your honor, he maintains that at the time he said it he had his fingers crossed! [facebook.com]

      • by GooberToo (74388)

        Even if that side of things pans out, though, it certainly makes it a bit harder to make the argument that Google was willfully infringing

        It doesn't mean that at all. Unless his statement is something like, "After a careful technical review to find Dalvik does not infringe any of our patents, I find Google's adoption of Java as their development language to wonderful for the Java and Android communities.", this is a complete fanboy story. It absolutely zero to do with anything.

        Bluntly, unless they can prove such a statement was backed by some type of patent review or technical analysis, it means absolutely nothing. Nada. Zero. Now that doesn'

      • Re:Won't stop Oracle (Score:4, Informative)

        by QuantumRiff (120817) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @09:12AM (#36882368)

        The University of Oregon has been able to show a picture of Walt Disney shaking hands with the president of UofO, and mentioning in an article how he liked the mascot (which was based on Donald Duck) to settle a lawsuit from Disney on infringement.

      • by Klync (152475)

        I don't think it's tenuous at all. Lots of projects by lots of companies use Java; this is nothing new. Sun could praise any number of them, but it just so happens that Android / Java is high profile, so they chose to praise that one particular project. That doesn't mean they were aware and sanctioned copyright infringement on any particular piece of code. Java comes with a license, and it's not unreasonable to think that Schwartz would make a public statement of support under the assumption that Google was

    • Re:Won't stop Oracle (Score:5, Interesting)

      by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @07:19AM (#36881676) Homepage

      If commentary on Groklaw [groklaw.net] concerning this very subject is any indication of probably outcome, then the case is pretty much already lost because of the doctrine of estoppel. It basically says "we were encouraged and supported in this route by the owners of Java and it became what it became in part because of that. You can't take that back now just because there are new owners." Permission to do what Google has done has already been given before Oracle took over. It seems unjust and childish somehow that it would be possible for new owners of something to step in and suddenly evict others from their intellectual property after they have been homesteading for so long.

      The doctrine of estoppel defence is just one of Google's defences in this case, of course... Google will also, as much as possible, render as much of Oracle's IP useless in the process of defending their case. Oracle's arrogant aggressiveness, I hope, will result in a very humbling experience for them and give pause to anyone who wishes to assert software patents in court. The more frequently software patents are invalidated, the less likely new ones are to be approved in the future... and I pray that one fine day, they are simply dropped from the list of things that can be patented entirely.

      • by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @07:44AM (#36881794)

        If commentary on Groklaw concerning this very subject is any indication of probably outcome, then the case is pretty much already lost because of the doctrine of estoppel.

        That is interesting. If this is a valid defense then I wonder why we also find warnings on Groklaw to avoid Mono because of patent concerns. Surely the same doctrine would cover Mono even more than this case, because Microsoft have been way more enthusiastic a simple press release.

        • by mrsurb (1484303) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @08:45AM (#36882160)

          Google has deep pockets and lots of lawyers to defend themselves against Oracle. And even if Google loses this lawsuit, they're able to find the $100 million or so that they need to pay Oracle down the back of the couch.

          Mono doesn't have deep pockets and lots of lawyers. A patent lawsuit from Microsoft against Mono would be devastating, win or lose.

        • The warning is there because Microsoft can still choose to screw you over for using Mono. You may have an excellent defense (maybe a more substantial one than Google's) and you may win the case, too, but unless you have your own legal teams that get paid whether they're busy or not, you're going to get bankrupted in the process, while Microsoft buys your IP at the fire sale.

    • So, if a woman goes to bed WILLINGLY and HAPPILY with you in which
      1) everybody at the bar saw this,
      2) the next day told her friends what a wonderful time you had,
      3) You continue a happy relationship for 3 years
      and then shortly after attending some religious revival, she can declare that you raped her 4 years ago?

      And yes, my analogy is about the right one.
  • Awful, I know, but I could not hold myself. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estoppel [wikipedia.org]
  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @07:03AM (#36881592)

    Definitely puts Oracle in an difficult position but does the current owner of a company assume the liability of "word-of-mouth" statements by a former owner? What's more, are they actually a legal binding agreement? I like Oracle about as much as I like Microsoft and Apple, but it seems to me that what it comes down to is Google would need to produce an actual legal document signed by Sun to make anything matter out of this.

    • by bloodhawk (813939)
      yep, CEO's make silly PR based statements all the time only to immediately turn that around into a law suit just weeks later if licensing or negotiations change. While it certainly hurts Oracles case it isn't really damning evidence in itself.
    • by Trepidity (597) <.gro.hsikcah. .ta. .todhsals-muiriled.> on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @07:20AM (#36881678)

      It's not nearly as good as a real patent license, but if you encourage someone to do something and then sue them for it, they can argue "detrimental reliance", that you had suggested it was fine for them to do something and they had relied on that representation--- and therefore, even if the use turned out to be unauthorized, it might not be equitable to allow damages to be collected in that case.

    • I am not sure about the US, but in the UK if a director of a company makes an oral statement on a commercial matter it has the same force of law as a written statement, provided there is independent evidence if (s)he subsequently retracts. Subsequent purchase of the company does not invalidate any contracts which do not have an appropriate invalidity clause.

      When in the past I have addressed customers as a director, I have always been careful to state that either no oral comments I made would be legally bind

    • Statements matter in court. You can't go and say one thing, and then act in an opposite manner and expect a court to be ok with that, particularly when you are talking damages. So no, this won't make everything go away, if it would have it probably would have already gone away. But it does weaken Oracle's case.

      Oracle's argument is basically that Google is evil, stole their tech, and owes them a bunch of damages because of that. Google is trying to show that isn't the case. things like this help.

      Also somethi

  • by kai_hiwatari (1642285) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @07:05AM (#36881600) Homepage Journal
    Google has already submitted the said blog post as part of its defense http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/california/candce/3:2010cv03561/231846/103/0.pdf [justia.com] (Exhibit M) So, this is not a new development and unlikely to change anything.
    • So, this is not a new development and unlikely to change anything.

      The Assclown vs. Google legal proceedings haven't progressed far enough for summary judgements, which is when I expect this to be used. This is something that would cause any sane legal system to stop in its tracks and dismiss the case with prejudice.

  • MS used to push stealing from them. As they said, a stolen item from me robs my competitor of money. This was how they destroyed Borland. Now, where life gets interesting is how will the courts see this? Sun was NOT out to illegally destroy a competitor. They were happy to have Google use it. Hopefully, this destroys Oracle's lawsuit, while still allowing Google''s counter claims to continue forward.
  • by cvtan (752695) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @07:52AM (#36881844)
    Estoppel by record—This frequently arises as issue/cause of action estoppel or judicial estoppel where the orders or judgments made in previous legal proceedings prevent the parties from relitigating the same issues or causes of action,
    Estoppel by deed (often regarded as technical or formal estoppels)—Where rules of evidence prevent a litigant from denying the truth of what was said or done
    Estoppel by silence—Estoppel that prevents a person from asserting something when he had the right and opportunity to do so earlier, and such silence put another person at a disadvantage.
    Laches—estoppel in equity by delay. Laches has been considered both a reliance-based estoppel, and a sui generis estoppel.
    With apologies to Cardinal Fang.
  • Google has stolen not just patented ideas

    That's clearly bullshit, because ideas aren't patentable. Implementations of ideas, i.e. inventions, are. Expressions of ideas, e.g. novels, artwork aren't - but they can be copyrighted.

  • Not the whole story (Score:5, Interesting)

    by realinvalidname (529939) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @08:41AM (#36882124) Homepage

    It's unfortunate that Schwartz's blog is gone, and that ZDNet didn't drill down a little more carefully to check dates on things. I was working with Sun on the java.net site at the time, through a contract with O'Reilly. As I recall, the story is actually somewhat worse. The rumor mill reported that Android would be using Java, and Schwartz went off half-cocked and praised Google for the "Java/Linux platform". Writing for java.net [java.net], I said "But I didn't end up putting this on the front page, because I just couldn't source the Java angle well enough (no offense, Jonathan, but you did say ZFS would be on Leopard...)." (that's the current editor's headshot on the page, not me, BTW).

    Not too much later, Google laid out the details of Android, including the Dalvik VM, which meant that Google was only using Java the language (which it didn't have to license) and not Java the VM (which it would have had to). What I heard through the back channel was that Sun was pissed, believing it had been stabbed in the back. This made for a very awkward scene at Sun's mobile-focused "ME Developer Days" a few months later in January 2008: the Sun people had clearly been told to not talk about Android or acknowledge it in any way, which led of a few awkward moments of dancing around the elephant in the room. The first night of the conference, the Java Posse stopped by for dinner, and upon seeing Dick Wall (who at that time worked at Google), the first thing I said to him was "man, are they pissed at you guys."

    Relevant dates and links:

    • November 5, 2007 - Google announces Android [blogspot.com], doesn't mention Java
    • November 5, 2007 - Later that day, Schwartz posts blog praising Android as "Java/Linux platform"
    • November 12, 2007 - First release of Android source, Dalvik revealed. This blog [betaversion.org], written that day, has a pretty good explanation of the fast one Google pulled on Sun. "How did Google manage to get Sun to license off a platform that could very well kill their own? Turns out, they didn’t: their move was even smarter than Sun’s."

    Anyways, assuming my recollection of events and this timeline is accurate, Schwartz's blog should not be taken as an indication that Sun knew about and approved what Google was doing with Android. What it does prove is what a lot of people knew then but wouldn't say: Schwartz was a clueless loud-mouthed buffoon who happily fiddled away on his blog as SUNW burned.

    • by JAlexoi (1085785)

      • November 5, 2007 - Google announces Android [blogspot.com], doesn't mention Java
      • November 5, 2007 - Later that day, Schwartz posts blog praising Android as "Java/Linux platform"

      These two, kind of, contradict each other. But maybe Schwartz knew more than Google was willing to disclose.

  • Does Goggle have a written document giving them explicit permission to use the patents in question? I mean the thoughts of an old CEO may be enlightening about how Sun's CEO felt about Android at the time, but it means nothing since we are talking about a different CEO of a different company. If only Google had some sort of licensing agreement in place to indemnify themselves.

    The only damning evidence I see is that Google probably should have presented an offer to Sun's board (and stockholders) to purchase

  • Fuck Oracle. This rant is unrelated to TFA, however it rings true for Oracle's leeching style; I will take pleasure in sledgehammering my rack of SunFire servers once I've procured replacements from another mfr. There is no way I will give those fuckers ONE CENT for what Sun rightly provided for free.
    • by cpghost (719344)
      Before destroying those SunFire servers, please put them on eBay for us SPARC devs. It's increasingly hard to get decent equipment for that platform, now that big evil Oracle has swallowed Sun.
  • Never underestimate the power of the Schwartz!

  • It's so nice to see that after the pony-tailed idiot (Scwartz) destroyed Sun, he's showing up to mess with Oracle.

    Honestly, Oracle should have kept him on. They deserve each other.

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