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Judge Orders Oracle and Google To Talk, Again 89

Posted by timothy
from the when-all-they-want-is-a-restraining-order dept.
Reader Fluffeh snips from and links to Ars Technica with the latest chapter in the ongoing Google vs. Oracle fight involving patents, Java, and Android, writing that executives at both companies were "'ordered to hold one last round of settlement talks no later than April 9th, with the trial over Google's alleged use of Java technology in Android set to begin April 16,' though '[t]he last-ditch effort to avoid a trial seems unlikely to succeed. ... Oracle initially accused Google of violating seven patents, but has since dropped most of them. This is due to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruling the patents described technology that was not patentable. Two patents assigned to the Oracle-owned Sun Microsystems remain: #6,061,520 which covers "an improvement over conventional systems for initializing static arrays by reducing the amount of code executed by the virtual machine to statically initialize an array," and #RE38,104 which covers a type of compiler and interpreter."
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Judge Orders Oracle and Google To Talk, Again

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @08:14AM (#39472955)

    This is due to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruling the patents described technology that was not patentable.

    Then why did they have the patents in the first place? This just shows how big of a load of bullshit software patents are. Do they at least get their money back for the patents that are supposedly not patentable? I'd be pissed if I paid $25,000 and then the assholes tell me my patent is invalid.

  • by samjam (256347) on Monday March 26, 2012 @08:15AM (#39472967) Homepage Journal

    No, because the patents increase share price, so the $25,000 per patent was probably money well spent.

  • by lostsoulz (1631651) on Monday March 26, 2012 @08:19AM (#39472985)

    It seems that IT news is dominated by A litigating against B (lawyers get rich.) C takes on D in a bunch of jurisdictions and has products pulled from shelves (lawyers get rich and consumer choice suffers a hiccup.) Much of the litigation is driven by US tech firms. As a European, I realise our legal systems are less than perfect, but I'd like to understand more about the motivation (beyond $$ alone,) for such active lawyering. Maybe it's all about $$...but isn't everyone getting bored with this?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @08:46AM (#39473083)

    [...]it just seems silly to bring someone to court over how they initialize an array.

    At this stage, yes, because that's all that's left of Oracle's initial claims. And that's exactly why the judge is basically telling them "seriously, you really want to waste my time with this? Maybe you want to talk it over and go away."

    But this is after months of Oracle having their claims slowly being stripped down. Their original claims were more numerous and greater of scope. You may recall the headlines from a while ago, boasting how they would take Google for all they have because they copied most of Android from JVM and they infringed on tens of patents.

    In all fairness, once brought into the light these broken patents don't survive for long. So at least there's that... the bad part is that you need Google's money to pay lawyers a lot in order to get to do that. Smaller companies would simply fold.

  • by bertok (226922) on Monday March 26, 2012 @09:15AM (#39473281)

    At first, I assumed that this was about some complex algorithm like finding the greatest common subsets in a large set of static values or something similarly esoteric, but nope, it's trivial:

    The preloader identifies all <clinit> methods and play executes these methods to determine the static initialization performed by them. The preloader then creates an expression indicating the static initialization performed by the <clinit> method and stores this expression in the .mclass file, replacing the <clinit> method. As such, the code of the <clinit> method, containing many instructions, is replaced by a single expression instructing the virtual machine to perform static initialization, thus saving a significant amount of memory. The virtual machine is modified to recognize this expression and perform the appropriate static initialization of an array.

    It's so trivial that you don't even need to read the body of the patent to completely understand it! I can even boil it down to just three words: compile-time memoization,

    Not only that, but this is hardly a concept unique to Java, there's even a Wiki article for it [wikipedia.org]! Maybe Oracle should sue the inventors of the D Language, and the C++ committees too while they're at it, because if you use template meta-programming to initialise a static variable, then you've infringed -- or close enough anyway to be sued into bankruptcy.

    The reason few (if any) compilers used static initializer memoization before 1998 is because most of the commonly used general-purpose languages with a concept of "static" weren't safe back then, so the compiler couldn't execute small arbitrary chunks of code without risking a crash or strange side-effects. The only reason Java could introduce this feature is because of a convenient side-effect of compiling a safe language -- not because someone had invented either compile-time evaluation, memoization, or the combination of the two. That, and nobody had over-used static values sufficiently while simultaneously caring enough about startup performance to bother implementing such a complex feature given the marginal performance advantage. You could probably demonstrate prior art by just pointing out that most compilers evaluate constant expressions at compile time, so "static int foo = 5 + 5" is basically the same thing as what the patent is claiming.

    How did "of the people, by the people, for the people" turn into "of the inept, by the litigious, for the corrupt"?

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