Emergent: Oracle's behavior re Java

Evan eapache at gmail.com
Fri Aug 13 13:11:23 UTC 2010

On Fri, Aug 13, 2010 at 9:00 AM, John Moser <john.r.moser at gmail.com> wrote:
> http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/08/13/0255205/Oracle-Sues-Google-For-Infringing-Java-Patents
> Emergent news.
> I want to raise the question on what to do about this if it persists.
> We're too early to call this another SCO fight (Ko fight?), but I'm
> not the only person in the world with a strong distaste for Oracle's
> crappy products and aggressive business practices.
> I don't see much of a problem here, but I still want to pose the
> question:  how would Ubuntu deal with this if it became relevant?
> Let's say Oracle continues to pursue just Android for its
> non-Sun/Oracle Java implementation patent infringements.  Would the
> Ubuntu developers ignore this?  Would they wait several months, years,
> or to verdict/settlement before making a decision?  Would Oracle
> suddenly be in the clear if it backed off, or if the judge ruled
> against their favor?
> What if the decision was made to react to this?  Oracle gets to court,
> Google starts fighting, it looks uncertain but everyone decides that
> Oracle is too aggressive to keep ourselves in their shadow.  GCJ could
> be at risk, or any open source Java reimplementation.  It's okay to
> use Java, as long as it's Oracle Java.  Given these threats, the
> decision is thus made to sever Ubuntu from Oracle.
> Okay, so then what?  Source directly from Go-oo and disable Java
> functionality in OpenOffice.org?  That would be "the main application"
> of effect here; but what about the tons of open source software
> written in proprietary, non-open-standard Java?  Apache Tomcat
> especially.  Ejecting Java entirely will create problems; and keeping
> Sun Java (and ejecting open source Java implementations) would create
> controversy and phantom legal troubles (which could become REAL legal
> troubles).
> Even worse than that, let's look at the patents Oracle holds in
> relation to this case:
>    6,125,447 - Protection Domains To Provide Security In A Computer System
>    6,192,476 - Controlling Access To A Resource
>    5,966,702 - Method And Apparatus For Preprocessing And Packaging Class Files
>    7,426,720 - System And Method For Dynamic Preloading Of Classes
> Through Memory Space Cloning Of A Master Runtime System Process
>    RE38,104 - Method And Apparatus For Resolving Data References In
> Generate Code
>        (A reissued patent; the original number was 5,367,685)
>    6,910,205 - Interpreting Functions Utilizing A Hybrid Of Virtual
> And Native Machine Instructions
>    6,061,520 - Method And System for Performing Static Initialization
> Lots of these could apply to an implementation of the CLR, i.e. Mono.
> At least on the face.  I haven't read the patents, I don't know how
> Java-specific they are; but you could write a CLR by modifying Java to
> interpret CIL instead of Java bytecode.  Slip a .NET class library
> around it and you have another Mono.
> This behavior at the moment is completely emergent and unknown.  It
> could become significant, or the whole issue could go away.  Still,
> just how much hangs in the balance here?  What would the impact be if
> this became relevant?

Something to keep in mind is that this won't just affect Ubuntu.
If this does become a major issue, Debian will have to deal with it, Mono
(as a project/community) will have to deal with it etc.

Since we effectively inherit from all of these projects who will be much more
directly affected, I think our best course of action is simply to keep
on eye open,
and be prepared to participate in any discussions that happen upstream.

Just my two cents,

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