Google's Schmidt: We did not steal from Oracle

Google's Schmidt: We did not steal from Oracle

Summary: According to Google chairman Eric Schmidt, the company certainly "did not take Oracle's stuff," and he's fed up of being asked the question.

TOPICS: Google, Legal, Oracle

It's rare for executives of major tech companies to comment personally on court cases, but Google's Eric Schmidt appears to be at the end of his tether over the Google V. Oracle scenario.

In a public Google+ post published Sunday, the executive chairman personally struck back against Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's anti-Google comments, specifically the claim that Google "took Oracle's stuff" through the use of Java within the Android operating system.

"I've gotten a lot of questions about Larry Ellison's claims that Google "took [Oracle's] stuff," Schmidt writes. "It's simply untrue -- and that's not just my opinion, but the judgment of a U.S. District Court."

The court case in question was filed in 2010. Oracle accused Google of infringing copyright on 37 Java application programming interfaces (APIs) within the Android operating system. While Oracle argued that the tech giant used the APIs without proper licensing and permission, Google questioned whether APIs are copyrightable in the first place, and suggested that a ruling against the company would be damaging to open-source technology.

In May this year, after a court case likened to a horror movie, Google was vindicated over claims of patent infringement. Oracle has appealed the ruling.

The Google executive chairman continues within his post:

"A jury found that we had not infringed Oracle's patents. And the Court ruled that copyright could not be used to block others from using the "structure, sequence and organization" of APIs, the language that allows different computer programs and systems to talk to each other. The ruling protects a principle vital to innovation: you cannot copyright an idea, like a method of operation. For example, no one can copyright the idea of adding two numbers together.

This case goes to the heart of the current and much-needed debate about patent reform. Patents were designed to encourage invention, not stop the development of new ideas and technologies."

Oracle naturally wasn't best pleased with the court's ruling. In an interview in August, Ellison said Google CEO Larry Page was responsible for using Java's code illegally. The CEO branded these alleged actions "absolutely evil," stating that Oracle "doesn't compete with Google," but thinks that the tech giant acted badly by taking Oracle's intellectual property. 

The case has also elicited strong feelings for Google, as Schmidt's final rejoinder suggests:

"I had the privilege, thanks to Oracle, of testifying in this trial."

Topics: Google, Legal, Oracle

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  • Down with Google

    That's all
    Dreyer Smit
    • Yes they took it but oracle couldn't prove it

      This should teach all companies never to pay for open source tech.
      Johnny Vegas
  • Oracle Wants To Take Its Ball And Go Home

    Sun/Oracle open-sourced the core of Java, figuring they could make money from their class libraries, JVM, J2ME and so on.

    Google did an end run by using just the open-sourced parts, replacing the class libraries (as much as they needed) with Apache Harmony, JVM with Dalvik, and J2ME with Android.

    So Oracle is mad as hell. They try to claim infringement of anything they can--patents, copyrights. Trouble is, it's a long-established principle that you can only copyright things where some element of creative expression is involved, not purely functional elements like APIs.

    But Oracle, in the tradition of massive American business egos, cannot be seen to lose face. So it must keep on fighting, until it is even more thoroughly humiliated.
    • Bingo!

      A couple of point to add to your comments:

      This was done when Sun was still in charge. Sun's CEO was very congratulatory:

      and that article references:

      The pathetic and contradictory claims made regarding the blog were easy to shoot down too:
  • if

    They did, they will never admit it. If they didn't they would answer in the negative. Asking would get the same response. Guess that's why we have courts.
  • intellectual property

    Schmidt says that you cannot patent "making the sum" of two quantities, but to make an API can be a very complex thing, the one "as making it" is clamors you property intellectual intectual, the jury that rule against this concept I believe that he sin of ingenuousness.
    luis river
    • APIs are rarely that complex

      Without the implementation, an API is just an interface. I could bang off a serious seeming API for Java/C in about five minutes.

      At any rate, it is a moot point. In this and thed SCO trial, APIs have been legally found to be uncopyrightable. Schmidt stands correctly before the law in that one, and it isn't up for debate.
    • Re: to make an API can be a very complex thing

      Of course it is. But to interoperate with software on the other side of that API, you have to replicate it exactly, down to the names of the functions. Thus, all these aspects of the API are purely functional, and cannot be copyrighted.
      • public methods have to have the same names

        but where do you get the idea functions do? That's the whole point of encapsulation... you get your code to work any way that you want it to, as long as the face it presents is the one it is supposed to.
    • Hmm, are you confusing "complex" with "good"?

      There are "good" APIs and "bad" APIs. There are also "simple" and "complex" ones. During the trial, Oracle tried to claim that creating "good" APIs was a difficult task that was worthy of protection, but I don't remember anyone standing up and actually testifying that Java's APIs *are* "good".

      Not that it matters, because APIs are functional.
  • can't wait

    Until Larry Ellison gets suited for slander and defamation because it is so clear that he is wrong as even a court ruling it's against him (and he knows it). It seems people don't change from their ways until they start paying the price.
  • Oracle Wants To Take Its ROI Sun/Oracle did NOT open-source MOBILE Java

    The business model of Java was based on the fact that most people want to get PC software for free, but are willing to pay for functionality on mobile. That's why Java has a "Mobile Edition" that requires a license. Court evidence shows Android/Google discussed paying for licensing but chose to create a "workalike" version of Java instead.

    Regardless of Eric Schmidt's opinion, the judgment of that U.S. District Court is currently under appeal, and may be reversed.
    • This is unlikely

      Appeals courts don't adjust technical findings of lower courts, only the legal principles. Google didn't implement a mobile-java-alike. They implemented Apache's dalvik, a clone of mainline open sourced Java, which was clean roomed (except for one small class that ended up resulting in Oracle's small reward.)

      Appeals courts didn't significantly up end SCO vs Novell, they won't up end this either. Look for this to stand.
    • Re: Oracle did NOT open-source MOBILE Java

      Makes no difference. A key attribute of Open Source is that there are no field-of-use restrictions: you are free to use it for whatever purpose.
  • If anything, google stole Sun's property.

    Oracle bought sun/java after the fact - one key reason being so they could sue google over this and cash in. But I don't agree they did. If it was decided they did, it would turn the whole software industry upside down and would be bad for us all. This goes far beyond just android/google.
    • Oracle bought Sun for Solaris

      Oracle never knew what to do with Java, they were focused on Sparc Stations and Solaris to run Oracle software. Ellison just can't stand the thought that somebody got over on him (whether they did or not).
  • Chest beating

    Ellison can beat his chest claim what he wants. His ego apparently doesn't match up with the facts.
  • Google's Schmidt: We did not steal from Oracle

    Google saying it did not steal. No reason to believe them when they steal everything else.
    • a court of law decided they did not steal.

      • @ DrWong

        The court of law had to decide so because of precedence.

        But we may start to see a change in how source code is interpreted.

        It was Sun's mistake in early 2000s to issue an OpenJDK license since that opened up the source code for Java. What Google did was to copy the source code including class structure, code structure and API interfaces without permission or a paid license. There was not even a token of license money or royalty money paid here.

        One has just to go to any patent website and check who owns the patents on Java. It is all Sun's engineers. Not Google's. And now Oracle is coming out with Java 8 soon.

        Android Java may have won the jury and the court declaration but henceforth changes in Java from Oracle (or the official Oracle Java) are off-limits to Google.

        You may not realize this but Google Android will never enter the enterprise or the enterprise cloud so long as it does not license Oracle Java patents. Well, good luck to them on not thinking about the enterprise!

        Google has managed to alienate the entire Java community of developers in the enterprise who stand with the Sun division under Oracle. What will they do now? Will they develop a bastard version of Java and push it around in the enterprise like what Microsoft tried to do? Either way, Google won the case and lost the markets. This is called lack of strategic thinking.