Feeds

Ellison wrestles Google to strangle 'unofficial' Java

Java. Software. Complete. Ownership

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Oracle in the catbird seat

The Java license is clear: even though Java is open source, Oracle grants a non-exclusive, non-transferable, limited license to use Java.

It seems that Oracle is arguing that Google's Android has violated its Java patents by running on a mobile device, where it's not allowed, instead of sticking to the desktop, where it's permitted.

Oracle needs everybody to stay their place, and can't afford to have different versions of Java running where they aren't allowed. To do so would allow two things: it would challenge the neat division of what versions of Java run where, and it would mean people could then begin disputing how much they pay Oracle in licensing fees.

That's especially important now, as Oracle has stepped into Sun's shoes as Java's chief steward, and needs to let everybody know who's in charge. One of the prime reasons Oracle bought Sun was to take ownership of Java. Java means repeatable licensing and maintenance revenue for its owner, and was one of the few pieces of Sun's software business actually making money.

The dispute over TCK licensing only threatened to get worse for Oracle. As more Android devices ship and Android increases its market share, Java ME diehards such as Blackberry have started to lose market share. That means Dalvik is digging in and it risks becoming a permanent force in mobile that Java ME vendors could never dislodge and must compete against.

Worse for the pretender to the Java throne, Oracle risked losing control over a large part of the mobile Java market. Not just to Google, who'd be free to make changes to Dalvik, but also to the ASF.

The ASF threatened to make things difficult for Oracle when Ellison & Co tried to make changes to Java before the matter of the TCKs was resolved.

ASF president Justin Erenkrantz told us in June that his group will reject changes to specs for new versions of Java through the Java Community Process (JCP), claiming that they violate the group's governing agreement. Also, ASF promised to "educate" the community on why it's important not to restrict where Java can be used.

It would be unseemly and unrewarding for Oracle to chase the ASF, it being an open-source organization — even though ASF's been a thorn in the side.

Far better to chase Google, the body with the commercial implementation of Harmony and the one that saw a 24 per cent growth in revenue for its latest quarter to $6.82bn. Oracle can send a message to others also tempted to use Android or make their own Dalviks, while keeping ASF and Harmony pinned down in the uncertified limbo with everybody using the official Java SE spec on their PCs.

Furthermore, while many don't particularly like Oracle, the rose-tinted specs people have used to view Google for years are finally starting to slip. Google's on the back foot over privacy and net neutrality. And, its take-it-or-leave it approach to building Android has stuck in the craw of many in the community who feel it's forking Linux for no good reason other than to serve its own purposes.

Oracle plays to win. It has smelled the blood oozing from Google — and pounced.

Java's new owner is going after Google over licensing again, only this time for using the "wrong" Java on the "wrong" machines. It's a fight to assert Oracle's right to control Java that it paid $5.6bn for, and to stop others following Google in doing just whatever they damn well please.

Like most patent disputes, there's a very good chance the companies will settle behind closed doors and terms won't be disclosed. If that happens, you should expect Oracle to have reached a licensing deal that permits Android to live but frightens other people from following Google's example. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.