ORCL vs. GOOG: hopefully just a bad timing August 16, 2010
Posted by Sacha in English, IT.
A few years back, I remember sending an e-mail to the JCP EC mailing-list in which I was wondering how GOOG was able to “leverage” so large chunks of Java without licensing it – I was finding that odd, especially for a company sitting on the JCP EC, hence supposedly elected to make Java move forward*. The feedback I got back from one of the Google’s rep had been relatively aggressive (and that I interpreted as “if you think I am infringing on some IP, show it to me, otherwise ST*U”). My goal at that time wasn’t to corner GOOG, but to better understand something that seemed like an elephant in the room. The fact that nobody from SUN replied to my comment and that the discussion thread died so quickly told me that the elephant had to be pretty big.
Fast forward a few years and we learn that ORCL has sued GOOG over some Java-related patents. Am I supposed to be surprised? Because I am not. The GOOG gooorilla is walking on fragile grounds with his big feet and Larry wants to show who is the boss.
Now, while I don’t really care about this ego-war, I think the timing of this legal action is very badly chosen. The SUN acquisition has closed for months now and ORCL hasn’t yet communicated what they would do with the JCP: will they be Java’s benevolent dictator or not? How? Under what terms?
JavaOne 2010 is not far ahead, so we will most probably get our answers soon, but it would have been much more readable if ORCL had i) officially stated they would further open up the JCP (as they repeatedly requested SUN to do) and ii) sued GOOG. This would have shown leadership and strength: “not only are we going to further build Java but we are going to step up to defend it – so beware!”.
Consequently, I really hope this is just a bad orchestration and that ORCL will announce good things at JavaOne 2010. If not, this could quickly get ugly…
*) a good part of the JCP contractual document, the JSPA, is dedicated to how the Intelectual Property of any Java spec flows from contributors to licensors – so IP issues were a hot JCP topic.