Google replies to Oracle's Java suit; cites hypocrisy

Google has answered Oracle's lawsuit over Java by denying all allegations and calling Oracle a hypocrite over the open-sourcing of the technology.

updated with Oracle statement below:

Google has filed court documents denying all of Oracle's allegations in a Java patent infringement suit filed in August. But Google didn't just deny the allegations and ask for full dismissal of the suit.

Google essentially called out Oracle for its hypocrisy over Java, noting that Oracle took one position about the open-sourcing of Java when it was belonged to Sun. But now that Oracle has acquired Sun, the company has changed its tune, Google said in the court filing. (PDF)

From Google's filing:

Sun came under significant criticism from members of the open source community, including Oracle Corp., for its refusal to fully open source Java. For example, in August of 2006, the Apache Software Foundation (“ASF”), a not-for-profit corporation that provides organizational, legal, and financial support for open source software projects, attempted to obtain a TCK from Sun to verify Apache Harmony’s compatibility with Java. Although Sun eventually offered to open source the TCK for Java SE, Sun included field of use (“FOU”) restrictions that limited the circumstances under which Apache Harmony users could use the software that the ASF created, such as preventing the TCK from being executed on mobile devices. In April of 2007, the ASF wrote an open letter to Sun asking for either a TCK license without FOU restrictions, or an explanation as to why Sun was “protect[ing] portions of Sun’s commercial Java business at the expense of ASF’s open software” and violating “Sun’s public promise that any Sun-led specification [such as Java] would be fully implementable and distributable as open source/free software.” However, Sun continued to refuse the ASF’s requests.

Oracle Corp., as a member of the Executive Committee (“EC”) of the Java Community Process (“JCP”), the organization tasked with managing Java standards, voiced the same concerns regarding Sun’s refusal to fully open source the Java platform. Later that year, in December of 2007, during a JCP EC meeting, Oracle Corp. proposed that the JCP should provide “a new, simplified IPR [intellectual property rights] Policy that permits the broadest number of implementations.” At that same meeting, BEA Systems – which at the time was in negotiations that resulted in Oracle Corp. purchasing BEA – proposed a resolution that TCK licenses would be “offered without field of use restrictions . . . enabling the TCK to be used by organizations including Apache.” Oracle Corp. voted in favor of the resolution.

Just over a year later, in February of 2009, Oracle Corp. reiterated its position on the open-source community’s expectation of a fully open Java platform when it supported a motion that “TCK licenses must not be used to discriminate against or restrict compatible implementations of Java specifications by including field of use restrictions on the tested implementations or otherwise. Licenses containing such limitations do not meet the requirements of the JSPA, the agreement under which the JCP operates, and violate the expectations of the Java community that JCP specs can be openly implemented.”

Only a couple of months later, in April of 2009, Oracle Corp. announced that it would be acquiring Sun (renamed Oracle America after the acquisition was completed in January of 2010). Since that time, and directly contrary to Oracle Corp.’s public actions and statements, as well as its own proposals as an executive member of the JCP, Oracle Corp. and Sun (now Oracle America) have ignored the open source community’s requests to fully open-source the Java platform.


Oracle sent over the following statement from spokesperson Deborah Hellinger:

In developing Android, Google chose to use Java code without obtaining a license. Additionally, it modified the technology so it is not compliant with Java's central design principle to "write once and run anywhere."  Google's infringement and fragmentation of Java code not only damages Oracle, it clearly harms consumers, developers and device manufacturers.