Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Android Google Oracle Patents The Courts Your Rights Online

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Judge Orders Oracle and Google To Talk, Again

Comments Filter:
  • By skimming #6,061,520 it seems to me that google could go free from that one just by calling the static initializers something else than - I don't know if they already do that. But it somehow seems oddly specific that the patent explicitly says "clinit method(s)" instead of just saying static class constructors or something like that - like it's only targeting java without never mentioning java in the claims.
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday March 26, 2012 @08:19AM (#39472983) Journal
      Not really. Skimming the patent, it seems that it is describing a preprocessing stage where you try running all static constructors, record their results, and generate a simplified version. This would be equally applicable to C++ - if all that the constructor does in a global is touch memory then you can just record the memory layout and stick that in the executable. It's quite neat, but I'm not entirely sure it counts as non-obvious, because it's really just an application of constant propagation, which all compilers have done for decades.
      • by poizan42 (1689384)
        First the abstract as well as the summary of invention directly talks about functions in class files. Of course it's the claims that are really important here.
        Claim 1-5 explicitly talks about a clinit method in a class file (2-5 builds on 1).
        Claim 6-11 talks about determining what code does by "play executing" it (i.e. simulating) - I can't believe this doesn't have any sort of prior art - seems a lot like some more or less standard optimizations by compilers.
        Claim 12-17: again here it's talking about c
    • by Rasperin (1034758)
      I've got to admit, they needed a better summary for that than "An array that uses less code to work", because the definition is incredibly specific. They could do a lot of things to get around this easily and is honestly an oversight on Googles part. However, it's not a question of removing but that they have infringed, several times (and on the level of how specific it is, there's no way they will invalidate this), they really should settle up with them. (Unless Oracle is just claiming they are infringing
    • I don't know about you, but this patent looks laughably peripheral to Java, never mind whether the patent is bogus or not. If I were a Google lawyer I would be looking forward to my opportunity to humilate Troll Oracle in court.

  • 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 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 erroneus (253617) on Monday March 26, 2012 @08:26AM (#39473007) Homepage

      We've sent most of our industry elsewhere. Now we have lawyers and MBAs running the nation. What did you think was going to happen?

    • by Rogerborg (306625)
      Lawyers don't seem to be getting bored with it. And like most budget items, you either use them or lose them.
      • by nomadic (141991)
        I guarantee you the lawyers working on this case are bored with it by now.
        • Well, considering the Oracle lawyers are involved with that slog known as SCO, maybe they have a high tolerance for boredom (or extremely low tolerance for change and like dealing with one litigation for a decade at a time?).
        • by hoggoth (414195)

          I guarantee you the lawyers were bored with this case about 30 minutes after it began. I know a lot of lawyers. I don't know any that enjoy anything about what they do besides the money, which to be fair is fantastic.

    • by jonwil (467024) on Monday March 26, 2012 @08:45AM (#39473081)

      It depends on the company.
      Some companies just want royalties paid on their patent (e.g. the MPEG patents)
      Other companies want royalties plus limits on behavior (e.g. Microsoft v Android where Microsoft is rumored to be telling Android vendors what they aren't allowed to do if they want to use Microsoft patents)
      Some companies want the infringing product gone completly (Apple v Samsung) and wont even consider licensing.

    • by walterbyrd (182728) on Monday March 26, 2012 @08:53AM (#39473121)

      As it is, patents have a fantastic ROI. How much has Apple profited by keeping Samsung off the market with Apple's "rounded corners" patent?

      Patents allow you to turn $50K into $50 million. Where else can you get an ROI like that? Maybe lobbying.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        As it is, patents have a fantastic ROI. How much has Apple profited by keeping Samsung off the market with Apple's "rounded corners" patent?

        Patents allow you to turn $50K into $50 million. Where else can you get an ROI like that? Maybe lobbying.

        fantastic thing about them is that the roi can't be measured. so they can hog all credit. apple vs. samsung didn't probably affect the sales all that much at all. for a little while, in germany they did. but sales profits lost/gained for both companies are probably less than a nice mercedes benz costs(different people buying them + if you really wanted a tab you could have one sent to germany easily). while lawyer costs, costs for state etc are higher.

      • patents have a fantastic ROI.

        So does organized crime.

    • Well since these are publicially traded companies it is usually about money (though i'm sure pride sometimes has an impact too). The main question is whether it is directly about money (judgements/settlements) or indirectly about money (squashing competition and/or forcing them to raise prices).

      I think in this case it's pretty directly about money. SUN's model for java was that the desktop/server versions (J2SE/J2EE) are free but the mobile/embedded versions (J2ME) cost money. Google built the android UI/ap

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      These are mostly corporate lawyers. They're well paid but they don't get rich. Or rarely do. If there's a big judgment it goes to investors.

      The fights are mostly about tech that should have been found obvious. The patent office is staffed by people who aren't sufficiently expert on the technology they assess. That's the root of the problem.

      • by nomadic (141991)
        Actually, patent litigation guys can make good money, though very few lawyers make the kind of money slashdotters think they do. You do raise a good point about big judgments, though.
  • Maybe I am missing something and not seeing the bigger picture here, but it just seems silly to bring someone to court over how they initialize an array. IMHO, it is actions like these that really show how broken our(The America) patent system really is.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      [...]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 a

    • The case was obviously meritless from day one.

      To this day, scox has not produced any evidence, and the courts are okay with that.

      If our legal was not FUBAR, it would have gone like this:

      scox: IBM stole our code and put it into Linux!!!!!
      court: can you identify the code in question?
      scox: absolutely not.
      court: case dismissed.

  • "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,"

    You can get a patent for stuff like that?

    Fuck me sideways! I need to get a couple hundred patent applications filed!

    • by Pieroxy (222434)

      Fuck me sideways!

      Three questions:
      1. Are you hot?
      2. Where do you live?
      3. When can we meet?

      Sideways sounds intriguing ;-)

    • But, you are right. The ROI for patent scamming can be fantastic. But, be aware, even meritless cases, like the scox scam, can go on for ten years. And major tech companies can drop $100 million on a lawsuit without batting an eyelash.

      To put it perspective, Apple earns about $14 billion a quarter. It's nothing for Apple to throw a few million dollars at a patent suit.

      • by Tom (822)

        It's nothing for Apple to throw a few million dollars at a patent suit.

        The business plan isn't to win a lawsuit. The business plan is to make it cheaper and more convenient for them to make me go away with a nice settlement than actually have the lawsuit happen.

    • You can get a patent for stuff like that?

      You can get a patent for clicking once on a mouse button.

    • I'd start by patenting sideways fucking.

  • 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"?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "It's so trivial that you don't even need to read the body of the patent to completely understand it!"

      I stopped reading your post after that sentence. What matters in a patent is the *claims*. The rest is basically just padding that has little or no impact on what is actually patented. Maybe you can come to the same conclusion after reading the claims, but that is very seldom the case, so come back after you've analyzed those.

    • Maybe Oracle should sue the inventors of the D Language, and the C

      They don't have databse technologies Oracle wants cross-licensing on.

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

      Romantic propaganda conflicts with observed reality.

  • "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,"

    What the hell? How is this one patent-worthy? so wait, refactoring is patented?

    • by berashith (222128)

      so the patent itself admits to prior art, but that this way is better. The phrase "an improvement" should mean that anyone else coule use the idea and just " but ours is one better". Another improvement is apparently an entirely different concept and previous patents cannot be applied or considered.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        People misunderstand how prior art works in patent law. Patent law allows for patententing improvements over an existing method, regardless of weather the original method is patended or not (providing, of course that if patented, you have a license). People also forget that while being inventive necessitates being innovative, the inverse is not true, they are no synomyms.

        It's the whole point of the patent system, Sun came upon an existing method, and figured out (read: innovated) a better way to do it, and

  • Were Oracle's claims that the regression test suite was illegally used/incorporated by Google dropped?

    I'd actually thought those were the only claims Oracle had any legal standing with. If they've been knocked down, I foresee a good result for Google and Android.

    • by oiron (697563)

      Since that was never actually distributed (just inadvertently made public on a server), there was no infringement there...

The only difference between a car salesman and a computer salesman is that the car salesman knows he's lying.

Working...