Greg's Bite: when "open source" isn't really open
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Greg's Bite: when "open source" isn't really open

By Greg Mills

While much has been written about the Apple vs Android patent war going on in courts and trade commissions around the world, there hasn't been nearly as much written about Oracle's suit directly against Google over using Java code without a license. Apple has chosen to attack all the handset manufacturers in separate actions rather than going after Google, head on. Both points of attack are beginning to have some effect, if the level of retoric coming from Google is any indication.

Oracle is suing Google for using patented Java code without a license in the Android OS. The head lawyer at Google was famously quoted recently whining that in effect, patents shouldn't be applied against open source software. One has to imagine if it were Google's patents being infringed, the story would be quite different.

The allure of using the Android OS, from a handset maker's point of view, is that many of the platform elements required to compete against Apple, such as a library of apps is provided and the high cost of writing and maintaining a proprietary smartphone operating system isn't for the faint hearted. RIM, Nokia and HP can attest to the fact that competing with the Apple iOS platform with their own operating system isn't easy.

The popularity of the Android OS is at least partially due to fact that Google provides it free. Licensing fees to Microsoft are paid by the handset manufactures directly for some patented technology based upon agreed royalty agreements, but the Android platform is open source. Google has somehow developed the unwritten rule that intellectual property laws shouldn't apply to open source software. That is okay if the owners of the intellectual property you are using don't sue.

The lawsuit Oracle filed against Google has forced the disclosure of some very interesting internal email found during the discovery phase of the suit. It turns out that in a couple of particularly damaging emails Google personel, at the highest level, discussed using Java without a license. Google knew it was using patented Java code without a license, that is intentional infringement. (See: http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/11/08/06/google_fighting_to_suppres... .)

What makes the disclosure particularly damaging is that accidental or unintentional infringement might result in an exposure to a large judgement, while intentional infringement triples the damage award, by law. Clearly, Google knew the Java code they were using wasn't open source and that they were using someone else's intellectual property without a license. Google tried to change just enough Java code in the Android OS to get around Oracle's patents.

If Google is found to have intentionally infringed on Java code without a license, that may well go against the entire Android OS platform in the various Apple vs Android lawsuits now being litigated in numerous legal venues. Frankly, it seems only the attorneys for Google really appreciate how precarious the Android platform's future is right now. The handset makers are very worried and the promises from Google to protect them from Apple seem to be just words with little actual action.

Google screams conspiracy as Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Oracle and Palm appear to be lining up against them. The notion that open source code can freely contain patented elements is being found to be a figment of Google's imagination. The Android house of cards is teetering on the brink of falling down. Google may well be forced to pay major damages to Oracle over the stolen Java code used in the Android OS and then pay ongoing royalties as well, which will go against the free platform program. Forcing Google to charge a fee for each handset that uses the Android OS will certainly level the playing field a bit.

Should Apple prevail in it's attack on Android, Apple is far less likely to license their technology than Oracle is. Can Android survive a complete OS recompilation without infringing on Apple's extensive patent portfolio and still be appealing to consumers? Will current Android apps still run on a new rewritten operating system and revamped Android handsets that don't infringe on Apple's patented hardware technology? Will a new Android OS orphan existing Android phones?

Some patent experts don't think there is any way to work around extensively patented Apple iOS technology and still have a modern touch screen smartphone. That is the intention of patents, to keep proprietiory technology out of the hands of competitors. Google will likely rue the day they decided to forgo licensing the Java code. The also used Apple's iOS innovation they had to expect was patented. While all the competing smartphone platforms will benefit from Android being crushed, Apple stands to gain the lion's share of the market.

Steve Jobs and the CEO of Google at that time, Eric Schmidt were seen at a public sidewalk coffee shop having a very heated conversation a few years back. Rumor are that Steve Jobs has quite a temper. This was about the time Schmidt stepped down from the Apple board. One has to imagine Steve Jobs was furious that Google was launching Android based upon inside information regarding the unreleased iPhone. Schmidt apparently used inside information about the iPhone while having a fiduciary duty to not disclose or use Apple's trade secrets. Having Eric Schmidt on the Apple board turns out to have been a major problem.

The smartphone, or properly the mobile computer market, which includes touch screen tablets, is so huge and has such a growth potential, that the stakes for all the players are of "make or break" potential. Patents and the legal system suck, but that is the only game in town and Apple is playing it well. Google is likely to learn the hard way, that they aren't too big to get hurt getting caught stealing the intellectual property of others.

That is Greg's Bite out of Google's hide for today.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Goat Simulator Waste of Space (Games)
Goat Simulator Waste of Space 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: ** IMPORTANT - SUPPORTED DEVICESiPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPod Touch 5 or better.** | Read more »
Wildfulness - Unwind in nature and calm...
Wildfulness - Unwind in nature and calm your mind with nature sounds and illustrations 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Healthcare & Fitness Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Spending time in nature helps you to... | Read more »
Dr. Panda Racers (Education)
Dr. Panda Racers 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: STEP ON THE GAS, RACE AND WIN!Fasten your seat belts and get ready to race! Speed your way to the finish line while doing... | Read more »
ROMANCING SAGA 2 (Games)
ROMANCING SAGA 2 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $17.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Romancing SaGa 2, originally released only in Japan in 1993, has been completely remastered and now receives its first... | Read more »
WRIO Keyboard (Utilities)
WRIO Keyboard 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Utilities Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: 40% OFF DURING LIMITED INTRODUCTORY OFFER | Read more »
Hatoful Boyfriend (Games)
Hatoful Boyfriend 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: The hit PC game that everybirdie loves has now migrated to your mobile device! Now you are free to explore the wonders of St... | Read more »
Warp Shift (Games)
Warp Shift 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: [ CHECK YOUR HARDWARE: Warp Shift does NOT run on iPhone 4, iPad 1 and iPod touch 4G or older devices! It requires at least iOS8... | Read more »
Lifeline: Whiteout (Games)
Lifeline: Whiteout 1.0.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.2 (iTunes) Description: Alone in a frozen wasteland with no memory of how he got there, a lost adventurer’s only hope is his last line of... | Read more »
Castles of Mad King Ludwig (Games)
Castles of Mad King Ludwig 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $6.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
How to command and conquer in Raid HQ
Raid HQ is a satisfyingly deep base building game with over-the-top macho action and explosions. This little free to play bundle gives you a lot to do from managing a squad to building the most powerful base you possibly can. [Read more] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

15-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $210 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1799 $200 off MSRP - 15″ 2.5GHz Retina... Read more
Clearance 2015 13-inch MacBook Airs available...
B&H Photo has clearance 2015 13″ MacBook Airs available for $250 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 1.6GHz/4GB/128GB MacBook Air (MJVE2LL/A): $799... Read more
Apple refurbished Apple TVs available for up...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 32GB and 64GB Apple TVs available for up to $30 off the cost of new models. Apple’s standard one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: -... Read more
21-inch iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 21″ iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 21″ 3.1GHz iMac 4K: $1379.99 $120 off MSRP - 21″ 2.8GHz iMac: $1189 $110 off MSRP - 21″ 1... Read more
Kanex Introduces GoPower USB-C Rechargeable B...
Kanex has announced its GoPower USB-C portable battery for the USB-C MacBook, featuring the new industry standard connector and cable used for connectivity and power. Providing users with a new... Read more
Convertible and Detachable Devices Winning Ov...
According to the latest figures published by International Data Corporation (IDC), Western European shipments of ultraslim convertibles and detachables posted positive growth (44.7%) to account for... Read more
New MacBook Pros And Will MacBook Air Be Upgr...
With my mid-2013 13-inch MacBook Air closing on its third anniversary come November, I’m in system upgrade mode. Actually the Haswell CPU equipped Air is still doing a fine job, but my good wife is... Read more
Apple’s Education discount saves up to $300 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free, and... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999,...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Apple refurbished iMacs available for up to $...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 21″ & 27″ iMacs available for up to $350 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are available: - 21″ 3.... Read more

Jobs Board

Editor, *Apple* News - APPLE (United States...
Job Summary The Apple News team is looking for a passionate and knowledgeable editor with experience covering entertainment/pop culture and experience running social Read more
*Apple* Nissan Service Technicians - Apple A...
Apple Automotive is one of the fastest growing dealer...and it shows. Consider making the switch to the Apple Automotive Group today! At Apple Automotive , Read more
ISCS *Apple* ID Site Support Engineer - APP...
…position, we are looking for an individual who has experience supporting customers with Apple ID issues and enjoys this area of support. This person should be Read more
Automotive Sales Consultant - Apple Ford Linc...
…you. The best candidates are smart, technologically savvy and are customer focused. Apple Ford Lincoln Apple Valley is different, because: $30,000 annual salary Read more
*Apple* Support Technician II - Worldventure...
…global, fast growing member based travel company, is currently sourcing for an Apple Support Technician II to be based in our Plano headquarters. WorldVentures is Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.