back to article Oracle v Google: Big Red wants $9.3bn in Java copyright damages

The Oracle v. Google fight over Java took a couple of twists just before the Easter weekend. The database giant now reckons it is owed up to $9.3bn in copyright-infringement damages for Android's use of Java. Meanwhile, the judge in the trial wants to ban Oracle and Google lawyers from scouring jurors' social network profiles …

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  1. storner
    Flame

    "Greed is good" ...

    Larry and Gordon must be related.

    1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: "Greed is good" ...

      Ellison, Page or both?

      1. Roq D. Kasba

        Re: "Greed is good" ...

        It's one of those cases where it's hard to pick who you'd rather lose.

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Here's hoping both of the teams get cancer...

    ...but in particular the Oracle team.

    There is a serious danger of the whole industry going up in flames, and all for their 9.3 billion pieces of silver (or rather less, in spite of grandiose claims by oxygen-wasting, water-polluting lawyers)

    Meanwhile Java has apparently been grabbed by the suits and is about to get the sociopathic reaper treatment. God help us all.

    1. theblackhand

      Re: Here's hoping both of the teams get cancer...

      That's a little harsh.

      I would propose executing legal teams ( all sides...) in patent disputes once a set period had expired without resolution of the issue.

      I would say it was to speed up the process, but I know the lawyers won't be able to turn down the additional profits from one set of legal teams being eliminated and the process restarting...

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: Here's hoping both of the teams get cancer...

        "I would propose executing legal teams ( all sides...) in patent disputes "

        That'll never work. If you want to see the lawyers scramble, or even shun patent disputes entirely, just have it set in stone that they'll be disbarred once the time period has lapsed without resolution.

        Just the thought of having to live a regular life in the world they're creating will give'em screaming nightmares.

        1. Adam 52 Silver badge

          Re: Here's hoping both of the teams get cancer...

          The lawyers are nothing without clients, so blame the bickering companies. The lawyers are just a weapon.

          1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Re: Here's hoping both of the teams get cancer...

            "The lawyers are just a weapon."

            The hourly rate of an IP lawyer is a bit higher than that of an infantryman, so it's just as well for us that corporations prefer litigation to warfare - in their home countries of course.

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: Here's hoping both of the teams get cancer...

              Just avoid anything that has any association with Oracle. Toxic.

              I have Oracle RAC, which I handle by the tip of its tail at arms length, like a dead rat. Guess where its roadmap is headed ?

    2. tony2heads

      Re: Here's hoping both of the teams get cancer...

      too SLOW

      What about trial by combat (no champions allowed). One lawyer claims it was never repealed in the USA.

      That would be a spectacle seeing CEOs really earn a bonus (assuming either one survives).

      I would prefer the mace and shield version, but I would allow that for the defendant to pick.

      1. Roo
        Windows

        Re: Here's hoping both of the teams get cancer...

        "I would prefer the mace and shield version, but I would allow that for the defendant to pick."

        I think it would be fairer, faster and more beneficial to society as a whole if the trial by combat was conducted at the bottom of the Mariana Trench with the combatants offered a choice of being shackled to 1000kg of boat anchor or 1000kg of concrete as ballast for the rest of their lives. I would graciously allow them to use any firearm they wish, although they would not be allowed any ammunition in case they shoot themselves in the foot before the contest gets underway.

  3. ecofeco Silver badge

    Oroborus

    Let them eat snake.

  4. ratfox Silver badge

    But can they Bing the jurors?

    If I understand correctly, Oracle is assuming that it should get all the money Google ever made with Android?

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: But can they Bing the jurors?

      "If I understand correctly, Oracle is assuming that it should get all the money Google ever made with Android?"

      Too wordy. Try this edit:

      "Oracle is assuming that it should get all the money ever made."

      1. John Sanders
        Alert

        Re: But can they Bing the jurors?

        There it goes all the coffee on the screen!

        Clap, clap, clap!

    2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: But can they Bing the jurors?

      It does rather seem so.

      But surely a realistic appraisal would be the amount of money that Oracle would have made out of Java had Google not developed Android. Since Oracle was about as likely to develop an advertising-funded mobile phone platform as I am to become the next President of the US, the most they should expect is some fraction of the usual per-device licence fee for embedded Java - not the full amount because only part of the IP is used, and it is not being supported.

      It's said that with libel cases the result depended on who could get the best (connected?) QC first. Expert witnessing nowadays seems to be similar. I wonder what this guy would have come up with if Google had engaged him?

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

        Re: But can they Bing the jurors?

        @Voyna i Mor: is it still time to nominate you as a write-in candidate?

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: But can they Bing the jurors?

          "@Voyna i Mor: is it still time to nominate you as a write-in candidate?"

          I chose that example because I wasn't born in the US, Canada, Hawaii or a US base overseas, to increase the improbability.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: But can they Bing the jurors?

        "not the full amount because only part of the IP is used,"

        Not only that, but any calculations on infringement of copyright should only be based on the time when the crazy decision to allow copyright on APIs was made plus some "honeymoon" period afterwards to allow the new infringers to change their models or licence the APIs. That would mean that at worst Google was infringing for less than a year with a very small part of their product.

        I mean, no one in their right minds had considered APIs to be copyrightable for all the preceding years they existed, so why should Google or anyone else be classed as infringing before new "law" was created by the courts?

        Maybe it's time to really shake up the software industry and start suing for software sold with inherent bugs and security vulnerabilities? Games with multi-GB download "fixes" on launch day FFS?

        Heh, I just thought. Is MS seeing this coming and that's why Win10 is free? You get what you pay for and can't claim a refund?

      3. Vic

        Re: But can they Bing the jurors?

        Expert witnessing nowadays seems to be similar

        Last year, I spent some time in a Public Enquiry. A certain large manufacturer of processed obesity was appealing the fact that they had been denied planning permission to knock down our pub.

        They had several "expert"[1] witnesses - all independent. Except that, when you do a little digging on these witnesses, the only work they ever did was to appear as expert witnesses for this particular corpopation...

        You'll be glad to know they appeal was denied.

        Vic.

        [1] Some of them were decidedly inexpert; the traffic bod, for example, decided that although the road in question[2] was a main thoroughfare to the motorway junction, he was going to treat it as if it were not, and thus have less-exacting rules as to its use. And the property development guy, when questioned about his addition of a £250k kitchen as part of the "necessary" refurbishment, came up with a beautiful response - that you could get away with less if you were only looking for burger and chips, or some rubbish like that. Oh how we laughed, considering the appellant :-)

        [2] The A334 in Southampton

  5. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    While

    the lawsuits are fairly entertaining, I wonder how much of that google profit was generated in the UK and if they paid the correct amount of corp tax on it?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re:correct Corporate tax

    I'm sure if they didn't pay the correct corporate tax in the UK that HMRC would be chasing them.

    Or are you referring to the "correct amount of tax" based on the laws that politicians never passed or even brought up for debate...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Re:correct Corporate tax

      Or are you referring to the "correct amount of tax" based on the laws that politicians never passed or even brought up for debate...

      I think we could call that post-government job planning. A bit like the former Irish Data Protection guy.

    2. GeezaGaz

      Re: Re:correct Corporate tax

      O I'm sure they paid the correct amount of corp. tax...

      The problem is that 'correct' amount would be small, very very small

  7. luis river

    Java property of Oracle

    The outcome of the litigation is not due to that the API´s are many or few, or that are hard or easy to make, is that they are property of the first that made them and therefore retains all rights, company Larry Ellison made a very significant investment in Java is just to get benefits

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Java property of Oracle

      Yes indeed, Oracle paid for Sun in the hope that they could make money out of the Java development including all the work contributed for free by the development community. The nonexistence of a just divinity is proven by the fact that Oracle is still in business rather than a smoking hole in the ground.

    2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      Re: Java property of Oracle

      > they are property of the first that made them

      Things like println, substring, toString, toUpperCase, toLowerCase, trim existed before Java so Oracle should be sued for using those.

      1. Blank Reg Silver badge

        Re: Java property of Oracle

        @Richard Plinston

        Those are just individual method/function names and shouldn't be copyrightable, but an API should be protectable by copyright, Just as individual words aren't copyrightable, yet books are.

        1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: Java property of Oracle

          > yet books are.

          The 'API' of a book is: "Frontispiece, Dedication, Contents, Preface, Introduction, ... Index, Appendix" is that copyrightable to the extent of one publisher suing another for using those ?

        2. Roo
          Windows

          Re: Java property of Oracle

          "Those are just individual method/function names and shouldn't be copyrightable, but an API should be protectable by copyright"

          An API could consist of a bunch of a set of entry points identified by a natural number. How would you distinguish between such APIs for the purposes of Copyright litigation - or would you simply declare them all the same despite them having totally different purposes ?

        3. Charlie Clark Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Java property of Oracle

          What do you think an API is apart from a list of method names, their signatures, and their return values?

        4. Nigel 11

          Re: Java property of Oracle

          Not all books are copyrightable in all aspects. Books which implement well-known "APIs" are not copyrightable in respect of the patterns commonly established by the API.

          Tor example, anyone can publish a calendar with one month per page, with months and days having the canonical names in your local language, with seven columns representing the days of the week, with the week-numbers, the public holidays and the phases of the moon marked, and so on. These details will be (and must be) the same in every competitor's calendar.

          All that stuff is the API for a scheduling entity called a "Year".

          This has also been thrashed out in other areas of human endeavour. For example, there is one and only one pattern of pipes and brackets and holes of particular heights and diameters that allows an exhaust pipe to fit any particular model of car. Copying that pattern in all details is necessary in order that a replacement exhaust pipe can be fitted to that car. The courts have established that auto manufacturers should not have a monopoly on the supply of spare exhausts by virtue of copyright over the external details (the Car to Exhaust API). They retain copyright on the internal design of their design of exhaust system, because there exists a near-infinity of designs all of which can perform the same function, and competitors can and should design their own internals.

          I had hoped that the eventual demise of Caldera's claims over the Unix API was the end for lawyers claiming copyright over software APIs. Sadly, it seems not to have been.

      2. Vic

        Re: Java property of Oracle

        Things like println, substring, toString, toUpperCase, toLowerCase, trim existed before Java so Oracle should be sued for using those.

        I'm still waiting for someone to take them to the cleaners over SQL...

        Vic.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Java property of Oracle

      The Java brand and internal non-OSS implementation code, may be the property of Oracle, but the API and OSS reference implementations, definitely not! It is nonsense to restrict public API use, because client code needs to use the API and will often need to provide alternative implementations for adapters, extensions and mock testing!

      It was/is quite pathetic and stupid for Sun/Oracle to start and persist a greedy, legal tantrum because Google said no to the stupidly expensive license for the crippled JME, which was underpowered for ARM CPUs, so adapted an OSS JRE API reference implementation for their own VM engine (not called Java).

      The USA patent system has already been proven to be unfit for purpose, with loads of over-broad nonsense approved, many submitted as obvious mockery!

      Intellectual Property (Industrial Protectionism) is an archaic, anti-property, oxymoron, state monopoly privilege invented by corrupt & zombie businesses and enforced by bribed government, it seems to be hampering healthy Capitalist competition too.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Java property of Oracle

      Sun (not Oracle) made Java, they also made WABI, a Windows clone that cloned the APIs of Windows so it could run an Sun Sparcstations.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabi_%28software%29

      Sun released Java under the GPL license back in 2006. i.e. Oracle don't even have exclusive rights over Java. Sun had already given that copyright away to open source.

      Oracle bought Sun.

      Google don't use Java, they use Davlik. A VM that implements the same API but is different code. Sort of like WABI did to Windows. (WABI is worse in that Windows isn't under GPL).

  8. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    I'm kinda impressed by the judge, seems to have understood that we're in the 21st century. Also seems to have his wits about him.

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      That's the same judge who originally ruled that API were not copyrightable. A shame it got overturned on appeal.

    2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      Yes, he knows the matter well. His arguments in the original case showed it cleary. Highly recommended reading. Groklaw has a good collection of case docs.

  9. DougS Silver badge

    Facial recognition

    The judge can ban them from finding out the juror's name and searching for them, but if they can get pictures of them they might be able to use facial recognition to find out who they are.

    Might be something more up Facebook's alley today, but if 'face unlock' became a popular feature in Android, then Google would be able to figure out who over half the potential jurors were. They could simply find a reason to excuse the ones they couldn't identify, leaving a jury packed with people whose names they knew but the opposition didn't, and they'd have a big advantage in every trial!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Facial recognition

      "The judge can ban them from finding out the juror's name and searching for them, but if they can get pictures of them they might be able to use facial recognition to find out who they are."

      Don't the lawyers on both sides have interviews with the prospective jurors and have a say on which ones get onto the actual jury already? So they must already have at least a list of names, possibly more data to start working from. And they have a cut off date so can get their searches in before then and still tell the judge they won't do it, having already done it, so technically not even lying.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Facial recognition

        They don't get names, the jurors are identified by number.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Out of the two companies...

    ...it's hard to know who I feel least sorry for. Yet more lawyers and sociopaths waving their dicks at each other.

  11. x 7 Silver badge

    so Oracle think the earnings they are owed by Google is more than they paid for the whole of Sun?

    Either they're talking out of their asses, or the previous management of Sun had no grasp of the value of their company

    1. Julz

      "the previous management of Sun had no grasp of the value of their company" That just about sums it up...

  12. Unbelievable!

    All the bloody security holes in java....

    If oracle or google wins, anybody ever that ever suffered a loss via java ought to consider class action recourse. Ok thats unlikely to happen because the T&C's absolve them of that for the end user...

    but It's wrong that millions are dying while people are getting fat on a bloody stupid argument.

    Fine them both and put the proceeds to a worthwhile cause

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BCL vs GPL

    "The current version of Java - Java SE 8 - is free and available for redistribution for general purpose computing. Java SE continues to be available under the Oracle Binary Code License (BCL) free of charge. JRE use for embedded devices and other computing environments may require a license fee from Oracle. Read more about embedded use of Java SE or contact your local Oracle sales representative to obtain a license. "

    However, Sun released the source code of the Class library under GPL on May 8, 2007, except some limited parts that were licensed by Sun from 3rd parties who did not want their code to be released under a free software and open-source license.

    So if the Android platform uses Java SE or some derivative under the older GPL then it's fine otherwise if they used the BCL version of Java then pay a licence?

  14. Walter Bishop Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Microsoft Android ©

    I thought Microsoft owned Android, why is Oracle going after them as well?

    1. Spacedinvader
      FAIL

      Re: Microsoft Android ©

      what?

  15. Alan Denman

    Open sauce..

    ...of the red hot kind.

  16. Sirius Lee

    Microsoft must really be hoping this goes Oracle's way. Imagine the lawsuits they could bring against all other software companies for using their APIs, especially the ones that are not part of a published open standards agreement. And especially if this is retrospective.

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