Feeds

Ellison wrestles Google to strangle 'unofficial' Java

Java. Software. Complete. Ownership

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop
Web giant looking into why version 5.0 of Android is crippling older slabs
Be real, Apple: In-app goodie grab games AREN'T FREE – EU
Cupertino stands down after Euro legal threats
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
SLURP! Flick your TONGUE around our LOLLIPOP – Google
Android 5 is coming – IF you're lucky enough to have the right gadget
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Bada-Bing! Mozilla flips Firefox to YAHOO! for search
Microsoft system will be the default for browser in US until 2020
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.