Oracle exec: No other reason to buy Sun except for Java

Oracle exec: No other reason to buy Sun except for Java

Summary: Oracle's chief architects for Java explain the value of the language and its related APIs after the acquisition from Sun Microsystems.


SAN FRANCISCO -- While the Java language is free to use and that isn't being contested by either Google or Oracle, one of the key tasks Oracle needs to accomplish if it wants to win its intellectual property lawsuit is prove the value of Java APIs.

See alsoGoogle's Page goes on defensive against Oracle lawyers at trial

Part of that task has fallen on Mark Reinhold, chief architect of the Java platform group at Oracle, who testified as an expert witness during the trial at the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, on Wedneday.

Reinhold previously worked at Sun Microsystems, from when he joined in 1996 until the Oracle acquisition in 2010. Reinhold has worked on the Java platform for the last 16 years. He explained that he is referred to as an "architect" because he looks after the coherence of the Java platform as a whole so that it "continues to make sense."

Reinhold informed the jury that a Java class library is a type of software library of pre-written programs that are pre-tested with pure documentation, which can be then referenced in developers' own codes.

Part of Oracle's case against Google rests on the argument that Google engineers knowingly copied select strips of code, line-for-line, from Java APIs without a license to do so.

However, explaining the Java class library system to the jury became a source of debate between the plaintiff and defendant lawyers in the case as Google's legal team objected to Reinhold presenting this system in detail with a slideshow.

Nevertheless, Judge William Alsup overruled the objection and let Reinhold continue.

Most importantly (at least to Oracle's case), Reinhold affirmed that the structure of Java APIs and structure of the Java class libraries are exactly the same because they are built from the same source code.

Specifically, there are 37 Java APIs at question in this suit of being used in Android illegally -- including two files in APIs that contain nine lines of arranged checked code, accused here by Oracle being assembled line-by-line and copied. Furthermore, there are two more files where some comments in the files are also accused of being copied.

In earlier testimony, Oracle chief corporate architect Edward Screven testified as a witness on behalf of Oracle, reiterating the specific value of Java to Oracle.

In fact, Screven asserted that he told Oracle CEO Larry Ellison in 2009 that "we should buy Sun for no other reason than Java," and that "Java was easily worth the purchase price."

Screven continued:

Oracle is in the hardware and software businesses now. In software, people pay us for licenses to use our software. It's important to us that we actually enforce intellectual property rights around our software. Otherwise, people would take our software without paying us, undermining our business model.

In an interesting side note, Reinhold mentioned that the name "Java" was chosen for the language as a replacement for the term "Oak," which had already nabbed by another technology company. During a discussion meeting about the name, it simply came about when someone came in with a cup of -- wait for it -- java.


Topics: Google, Open Source, Oracle, Software Development

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  • Stealing from yourself?

    When I code, I usually use the same code patterns to express the same concepts. Moreover people I train tent to use the same code patterns as I do.
    So question is, If I work for company A and implement a public interface, say, java.lang then I move to company B, and implement the same interface, most likely, my implementation, in both companies, would be similar, and some cases, identical, especially for simple methods. Am I really ???stealing??? from company ???A??? by providing the interface implementation fro company ???B???? I am not copying, I am creating new implementation based on my knowledge and my code practice.
    And BTW implementations in question, are, indeed, very simple
    • Same code is stealing, same concept usually isn't

      "[i]I am not copying, I am creating new implementation based on my knowledge and my code practice.[/i]"

      That's not what they're talking about. They're talking about the [i]exact same code[/i].

      If you are paid by Company A to write code for them, they own the code unless you contract otherwise. They would own the specific lines and the overall program layout but not just the concepts. By "overall program layout", I don't mean "Input Section, Processing Section, Output Section." For instance, if there are Output blocks for "Export to HTML", "Export to XML", "Export to PDF", etc., the thought process involved in identifying all the blocks, the interaction with other blocks, menus, etc., represents a substantial investment. For instance, you couldn't take a company's entire application flow chart, etc., just recode the individual functions/procedures, and claim no infringement. Even if it might not be a [i]copyright[/i] violation, it would still be theft of a [i]trade secret[/i]. The law basically defines "trade secret" as any information not generally known to those in a particular line of business which gives that company a competitive edge in its field. So, the structural layout of a program would be a trade secret if it involves any significant amount effort and has any significant effect on the working of the program. (For instance, which types of error conditions the program checks for, the sequence, and how it handles them.)
      • Same code is stealing...

        A simple concept can be expressed by a simple code. And the probability that the code will be exactly the same (for simple concept that is) is very high. And when we are discussing a public API, the implementation is bound by API specs. For the sake of experiment, I took one method in question, and implemented it based on the spec. Funny thing is that my implementation was almost identical of allegedly stolen one... Now I am afraid of Oracle :)
        And BTW, type of parameters, types of error conditions, methods names (and even parameter names) defined in public, open API specs
      • So what?

        It's open source. Go back to Oracle.
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    • This would all depend on your terms of employment...

      many employers take ownership of any "work" done by employees. So unless
      the license specifically allowed ownership to stay with you the employee,
      chances are pretty good they belong to company A.
      • This would all depend on your terms of employment

        I am not arguing that all work that I did for a company A belongs to company A. The question is, using my knowledge and skills I can create another implementation for a company B, and they can be, and will be, very similar because of my skills/knowledge/thinking patterns. Those things belong to me, aren't they? Right now, there is no technology around to extract all that things from my brain and put on the company A shelf :) Remind me of Neil Stephenson's "Snow Crush".
      • Terms of employment...

        it would still depend on the terms from company A...they may retain full
        ownership of the "ideas" you "created" while in their employ...and if they
        did retain ownership, then any creative work subsequent to that employment
        and based on those ideas could be deemed IP of company A.
        Think of it this many software engineers have worked for
        Microsoft over the years? I don't know, just using MS as an example...
        I'm sure many of them have used their "ideas" to solve problems while
        employed for Microsoft. Some of those software engineers have now left
        Microsoft and joined other firms...but the ideas they created at MS are
        property of MS, and derivative works based on that IP could also be deemed
        to belong to Microsoft.
        I once worked for a company that held such strict policies that even if I
        invented something on my own time, not while working, it was considered
        company property! Is that good, bad? I don't know, but it's the way it is.
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    • Given Certain Parameters...

      Given certain parameters about the API, the language you are coding in, and a simple concept, the odds can become pretty great that several programmers will write the exact same lines of code (though possibly arranged slightly differently) to accomplish the same goal. The code that they write is just the simplest way to accomplish the goal in the prescribed language. That's why a lot of code isn't copyrightable. If you are only comparing single lines, very little code is copyrightable. Larger snippets copied verbatim are more suspicious.

      If you've ever taken a class in some programming language and been given an assignment, then seen other students' code, you've seen just how similar two sets of individually arrived at code can sometimes be, and the better the programmers, the more likely the code is to be similar.
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    • Its not only about the implementations

      Oracle claim is not only about the implementation of Android, but about is API design.

      If we consider how hard, costly in time and energy is to produce a full set of tested API.I would say yes Google stole from (Sun/Oracle).
      • Do you think Sun developed the Java API entirely without copying?

        Aside from the fact that Sun released the Java language into the public domain, APIs have never been copyrightable before. How do you know that Sun didn't copy some Java APIs from somewhere else? For example, the functionality of String.format() seems to have been copied straight from C. Oracle is trying to open a whole can of worms here.
  • Oracle is trying to extort money from FOSS!

    Java was free and Oracle bought it to tax people because that's their 'business model'.
    That alone should be enough to dismiss this lawsuit!
    It does not help Oracle when even a novice recognizes bogus statements about Java made by the clueless 'architect' Mark Reinhold'.
    The Linux Geek
  • I wonder how many programmers are here.

    When the task is to generate code to accomplish a root function there are limited practical instructions AND limited order. What is the issue? I don't see how Oracle has a leg to stand on. It's open source fer god's sake. Send Elli$on back to wherever he came from.
  • Actually they bought Sun to get their hands on GlassFish.

    Really - I'm certain of it. Well, and MySQL too.
  • Out of the mouths of babes

    So, the only reason to buy Sun was for Java. What he is actually saying is the only reason to buy Sun was to sue Google, which Sun was never going to do. This is BS of the highest order.
    • To control its foundation

      Oracle brought sun for the similar reasons to the reasons IBM were looking (IBM allegedly balked at suns executive bonuses), they have a large middleware stack based on java so control is desirable, Oracles other reason was to get into hardware
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