Google's hiring of the spurned Java creator James Gosling could be a brilliant tactical move for the search engine as it defends its Android castle in court.
Gosling claimed not to know what he would be working on at Google, writing in his blog March 28: "I don't know what I'll be working on. I expect it'll be a bit of everything, seasoned with a large dose of grumpy curmudgeon."
I think we know exactly what Gosling will be working on. Gosling would likely be a pivotal figure should Google face Oracle in court. How can Oracle call Gosling to testify against the company he works for?
That's one nice strategic move. The other is that Google could tap Gosling to rework Android code in such as way as to prevent it from infringing on the Java patents Oracle owns.
Oracle claimed last August that Google's Android OS copies Java code patented originally by Sun Microsystems before it was acquired by Oracle last year. Gosling wrote a lot of the software protected by those patents and left Oracle last April.
Oracle said last month it had identified 14 registered copyrights that Google has infringed and planned to depose Google developers.
It's unclear whether that would include Gosling, who didn't work on Android when Oracle filed its claims.
The idea that Gosling would become involved with Android, and by extension the lawsuit, is full of rich, fun complexities.
On one hand, Gosling despises many of Oracle's business practices and treatment of senior employees.
On the other, Gosling is on record as having disapproved of what Google has done with Android: Gosling told eWEEK:
"We were pretty ticked off with what they were doing and the way they were doing it. But getting into litigation is phenomenally expensive, not just in terms of money but in the time of senior people. The U.S. vs. Microsoft trial pretty much destroyed a year of my life."
Gosling's fear and loathing of litigation may keep him from becoming involved with Google's defense versus the Oracle suit, in which patent experts such as Florian Mueller believe Google is too weak to protect Android from lawsuits.
We don't know yet in what capacity Gosling will work at Google.
Yet grabbing Gosling, who has intimate knowledge of the Java code in question, seems to signal Google's intent to fight Oracle right from the source code, over which there is bound to be nuanced, semantic wrangling.