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.

 
AAPL
$98.38
Apple Inc.
-0.64
MSFT
$43.89
Microsoft Corpora
-0.09
GOOG
$585.61
Google Inc.
-4.99

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Drive Genius 3.2.4 - Powerful system uti...
Drive Genius is an OS X utility designed to provide unsurpassed storage management. Featuring an easy-to-use interface, Drive Genius is packed with powerful tools such as a drive optimizer, a... Read more
Vitamin-R 2.15 - Personal productivity t...
Vitamin-R creates the optimal conditions for your brain to work at its best by structuring your work into short bursts of distraction-free, highly focused activity alternating with opportunities for... Read more
Toast Titanium 12.0 - The ultimate media...
Toast Titanium goes way beyond the very basic burning in the Mac OS and iLife software, and sets the standard for burning CDs, DVDs, and now Blu-ray discs on the Mac. Create superior sounding audio... Read more
OS X Yosemite Wallpaper 1.0 - Desktop im...
OS X Yosemite Wallpaper is the gorgeous new background image for Apple's upcoming OS X 10.10 Yosemite. This wallpaper is available for all screen resolutions with a source file that measures 5,418... Read more
Acorn 4.4 - Bitmap image editor. (Demo)
Acorn is a new image editor built with one goal in mind - simplicity. Fast, easy, and fluid, Acorn provides the options you'll need without any overhead. Acorn feels right, and won't drain your bank... Read more
Bartender 1.2.20 - Organize your menu ba...
Bartender lets you organize your menu bar apps. Features: Lets you tidy your menu bar apps how you want. See your menu bar apps when you want. Hide the apps you need to run, but do not need to... Read more
TotalFinder 1.6.2 - Adds tabs, hotkeys,...
TotalFinder is a universally acclaimed navigational companion for your Mac. Enhance your Mac's Finder with features so smart and convenient, you won't believe you ever lived without them. Tab-based... Read more
Vienna 3.0.0 RC 2 :be5265e: - RSS and At...
Vienna is a freeware and Open-Source RSS/Atom newsreader with article storage and management via a SQLite database, written in Objective-C and Cocoa, for the OS X operating system. It provides... Read more
VLC Media Player 2.1.5 - Popular multime...
VLC Media Player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, MP3, OGG, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It... Read more
Default Folder X 4.6.7 - Enhances Open a...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Note Review
Note Review By Jennifer Allen on July 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: TOO SIMPLEiPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad Note is a note taking app that’s a little too short on features to be worth its asking price... | Read more »
Chainsaw Warrior Goes on Sale & Ther...
Chainsaw Warrior Goes on Sale & There’s a Chance to Win a Copy of the Original Board Game Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 29th, 2014 [ permalink | Read more »
It Came From Canada: Tiny Tower Vegas
If you go to a casino, you might make a lot of money. If you run a casino, you’re guaranteed to make a lot of money. The choice seems pretty obvious. So while waiting for your shady real estate deals to move forward, get prepared with Tiny Tower... | Read more »
Z Hunter Review
Z Hunter Review By Lee Hamlet on July 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: RIGHT ON TARGETUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad While it might not necessarily break new ground, Z Hunter has enough tricks up its sleeve to ensure that... | Read more »
Huge Update Comes To Duet, Adding 48 New...
Huge Update Comes To Duet, Adding 48 New Stages Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Sharknado: The Video Game Available Now....
Sharknado: The Video Game Available Now. Seriously. Posted by Rob Rich on July 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Frog Orbs 2 Review
Frog Orbs 2 Review By Nadia Oxford on July 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: THIS MAGIC IS A TAD MONOTONOUS Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Frog Orbs 2 is repetitive, but younger players should enjoy it nonetheless.   | Read more »
Puzzix Review
Puzzix Review By Jennifer Allen on July 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NICE IDEAUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad A little like Tetris, Puzzix is all about piecing together blocks and watching them vanish. It could do with... | Read more »
Cannonball eMail is Now Live – Works Wit...
Cannonball eMail is Now Live – Works With Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, Hotmail, and AOL Posted by Jessica Fisher on July 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
To The End Review
To The End Review By Lee Hamlet on July 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: A VICIOUS CYCLEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad To The End will test players’ patience, timing, and dedication as they try to navigate all 13 levels in... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

The lowest prices on leftover Retina MacBook...
Best Buy has dropped prices on leftover 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros by up to $300 off original MSRP on their online store for a limited time. Choose free local store pickup (if available) or free... Read more
Apple Updates MacBook Pro with Retina Display...
Apple today updated its MacBook Pro with Retina display with faster processors and double the amount of memory in both entry-level configurations. MacBook Pro with Retina display features a Retina... Read more
Up to $250 price drop on leftover 15-inch Mac...
B&H Photo has dropped prices on 2013 15″ Retina MacBook Pros by as much as $250 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.3GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $2349... Read more
Updated MacBook Pro Price Trackers
We’ve updated our MacBook Pro Price Trackers with the latest information on prices, bundles, and availability on the new 2014 models from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers as well as... Read more
Apple updates MacBook Pros with slightly fast...
Apple updated 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros today with slightly faster Haswell processors. 13″ models now ship with 8GB of RAM standard, while 15″ MacBook Pros ship with 16GB across the board. Most... Read more
Apple drops price on 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro b...
The Apple Store has dropped their price for the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro by $100 to $1099 including free shipping. Read more
Apple drops prices on refurbished 2013 MacBoo...
The Apple Store has dropped prices on Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ and 15″ 2013 MacBook Pros, with model now available starting at $929. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free... Read more
iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 To Support DuckDuckGo As...
Writing for Quartz, Dan Frommer reports that Apple’s forthcoming iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 operating systems version updates will allow users to select DuckDuckGo as their default search engine. He notes... Read more
U.K. Hospital Using iPods and iPads To Record...
British news journal GazetteLive’s. Ian McNeal notes that the old “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” proverb is being turned on its head at http://southtees.nhs.uk/hospitals/james-cook/ James... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $1099,...
Best Buy has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $1099.99 on their online store. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Their price is $100 off MSRP. Price is... Read more

Jobs Board

Sr Software Lead Engineer, *Apple* Online S...
Sr Software Lead Engineer, Apple Online Store Publishing Systems Keywords: Company: Apple Job Code: E3PCAK8MgYYkw Location (City or ZIP): Santa Clara Status: Full Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Sr. Product Leader, *Apple* Store Apps - Ap...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.