Google Blows Off JavaOne, Citing Oracle's Android Lawsuit

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2010-08-27
 
 
 

In a move that comes as no surprise to anybody in the Java world, Google has announced that it is pulling out of the upcoming JavaOne conference, citing Oracle's lawsuit against it as the reason.

Oracle sued Google for patent and copyright infringement on Aug. 12, stating that Google's Android technology infringes on seven Oracle patents. Google responded saying the company intended to defend its position with Android.

Then, in an Aug. 27 blog post, Joshua Bloch, Google's chief Java architect and part of the Google Open Source Programs Office, said:

"Like many of you, every year we look forward to the workshops, conferences and events related to open source software. In our view, these are among the best ways we can engage the community, by sharing our experiences and learning from yours. So we're sad to announce that we won't be able to present at JavaOne this year. We wish that we could, but Oracle's recent lawsuit against Google and open source has made it impossible for us to freely share our thoughts about the future of Java and open source generally. This is a painful realization for us, as we've participated in every JavaOne since 2004, and I personally have spoken at all but the first in 1996.

"We understand that this may disappoint and inconvenience many of you, but we look forward to presenting at other venues soon. We're proud to participate in the open source Java community, and look forward to finding additional ways to engage and contribute."

Bloch is a former distinguished engineer at Sun Microsystems, which developed Java and is now part of Oracle and is known as Oracle America in the lawsuit. And although Bloch was not specifically named in the Oracle lawsuit, a claim in the suit appears to refer to him or others like him. The claim reads: "On information and belief, Google has been aware of Sun's patent portfolio, including the patents at issue, since the middle of this decade, when Google hired certain former Sun Java engineers."

Google hired Bloch away from Sun in 2004, not long after his promotion to distinguished engineer. Bloch has been involved with various Java Specification Requests (JSRs), including being the spec lead for JSR-175, which added annotations to Java.

In any event, Bloch's and Google's absence from JavaOne-which opens Sept. 20-will make for some interesting discussion at the event, if nothing else.

"This likely represents a deepening riff between Google and Oracle and pretty much says that no progress has been made so far between the two," said Al Hilwa, program director for applications development software at industry analyst firm IDC. "It is a marker that we might be about to get into a long-term process where Java starts to fragment. I would expect the word 'Java' to be used less and less by Google, and they might even have to come up with a different brand to name their fork of the language over time."

Moreover, Google has been intent on positioning Oracle's lawsuit as a suit not only against Oracle, but against open-source software in general. Bloch reiterates it in his post, noting that the suit is "against Google and open source." Some observers have said they see that as disingenuous on Google's part-not that either party in a lawsuit is right or wrong. But there is no entity known as "open source" that Oracle has named in its lawsuit.

"I think positioning it as a battle with open source is spurious," Hilwa said of Google's position. "Why is it more legitimate to make money from software through advertising, services, devices or anything else than making money from a license to use software? I don't understand that distinction. I can understand if a company is a not-for-profit, but that is not what we have here. We have two mega-companies that are mega-profitable from their intellectual property investment. Are Google's secret search algorithms in open source for everyone to profit from?"

Even as Google has pulled out, JavaOne 2010 stands to be a very different kind of JavaOne anyway. It will be the first JavaOne under Oracle. And most, if not all, of it will not take place in the location it has been in since its inception, San Francisco's Moscone Center. Instead, Oracle OpenWorld 2010 will be at Moscone, and JavaOne and Oracle Develop 2010 will take place at the Hilton San Francisco-and other nearby hotels will host sessions and events. This will also be the first JavaOne without Java creator James Gosling as a leading speaker. Gosling resigned from Oracle in April. He has characterized the Oracle lawsuit against Google as all about "ego, money and power," and said the suit came as no surprise.

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