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
$107.80
Apple Inc.
+0.82
MSFT
$46.82
Microsoft Corpora
+0.77
GOOG
$558.34
Google Inc.
+8.03

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Vitamin-R 2.20b1 - Personal productivity...
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
Dropbox 2.10.44 - Cloud synchronization...
Dropbox is an application that creates a special Finder folder that automatically syncs online and between your computers. It allows you to both backup files and keep them up-to-date between systems... Read more
Sandvox 2.9.2 - Easily build eye-catchin...
Sandvox is for Mac users who want to create a professional looking website quickly and easily. With Sandvox, you don't need to be a Web genius to build a stylish, feature-rich, standards-compliant... Read more
Cocktail 8.0.1 - General maintenance and...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.3.2 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
VMware Fusion 7.0.1 - Run Windows apps a...
VMware Fusion allows you to create a Virtual Machine on your Mac and run Windows (including Windows 8.1) and Windows software on your Mac. Run your favorite Windows applications alongside Mac... Read more
OneNote 15.3.2 - Free digital notebook f...
OneNote is your very own digital notebook. With OneNote, you can capture that flash of genius, that moment of inspiration, or that list of errands that's too important to forget. Whether you're at... Read more
Audio Hijack Pro 2.11.4 - Record and enh...
Audio Hijack Pro drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio with Audio Hijack... Read more
Iridient Developer 3.0.0 beta 3 - Powerf...
Iridient Developer (was RAW Developer) is a powerful image conversion application designed specifically for OS X. Iridient Developer gives advanced photographers total control over every aspect of... Read more
TextWrangler 4.5.11 - Free general purpo...
TextWrangler is the powerful general purpose text editor, and Unix and server administrator's tool. Oh, and also, like the best things in life, it's free. TextWrangler is the "little brother" to... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Monster Flash Review
Monster Flash Review By Jordan Minor on October 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: ALONE IN THE DARKUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Solid shooting and a surprising amount of spooky tension make Monster Flash a great portable... | Read more »
Retry Review
Retry Review By Rob Thomas on October 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: SOARING HIGHUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Flappy who? Let Retry wash all those bad bird-related memories away on a cool retro-flavored flight… right... | Read more »
Dementia: Book of the Dead Review
Dementia: Book of the Dead Review By Lee Hamlet on October 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: A TOUGH READUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad A witch hunter is sent after a demonic book in the spooky but short-lived Dementia: Book... | Read more »
Card Dungeon, the Semi-Board Game Roguel...
Card Dungeon, the Semi-Board Game Roguelike, Has Been Renovated Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 31st, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Logitech Protection + Power iPhone5/5S C...
Made by: Logitech Price: $99.99 Hardware/iOS Integration Rating: 3 out of 5 stars Usability Rating: 0.5 out of 5 stars Reuse Value Rating: 0.75 out of 5 stars Build Quality Rating: 0.75 out of 5 stars Overall Rating: 1.25 out of 5 stars | Read more »
This Is Not a Test Goes Free, Permanentl...
This Is Not a Test Goes Free, Permanently Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 31st, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Swap Heroes Review
Swap Heroes Review By Campbell Bird on October 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: STRATEGIC SWAPPINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Rotate a cast of heroes to fend of waves of monsters in this difficult, puzzle rpg.   | Read more »
Night Sky Pro™ (Reference)
Night Sky Pro™ 3.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Reference Price: $2.99, Version: 3.0.1 (iTunes) Description: Night Sky Pro™Wonder No More™ Night Sky Pro™ is the ultimate stargazing experience. From the creators of the original... | Read more »
Audio Defence : Zombie Arena (Games)
Audio Defence : Zombie Arena 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A zombie shooter audio game. Made from gut-wrenching 3D binaural sound, for a new kind of weird immersion. You... | Read more »
RPG Asdivine Hearts (Games)
RPG Asdivine Hearts 1.1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.1.0 (iTunes) Description: SPECIAL PRICE50% OFF (USD 7.99 -> USD 3.99)!!! Travel alongside four companions and a cat in the adventure of a... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple now offering refurbished 2014 13-inch R...
The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 13″ Retina MacBook Pros for up to $270 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Apple Regains Momentum As Windows Stutters An...
The latest smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, for the three months to March 2014, shows Apple performing strongly in the first quarter of the year, with sales bouncing back in... Read more
Worldwide Smartphone Shipments Increase 25.2%...
New smartphone releases and an increased emphasis on emerging markets drove global smartphone shipments above 300 million units for the second consecutive quarter, according to preliminary data from... Read more
Apple now offering refurbished 2014 15-inch M...
The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros for up to $400 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Apple drops prices on refurbished 2013 Retina...
The Apple Store has dropped prices on 2013 Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros, with Retina models now available starting at $999. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and... Read more
New 2.8GHz Mac mini on sale for $949, save $5...
Abt Electronics has the new 2.8GHz Mac mini in stock and on sale for $949.05 including free shipping. Their price is $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model from any reseller... Read more
Sale! 3.7GHz Quad Core Mac Pro available for...
 B&H Photo has the 3.7GHz Quad Core Mac Pro on sale for $2649 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $350 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this model from any... Read more
Mujjo Steps Up The Game With Refined Touchscr...
Netherlands based Mujjo have just launched their Refined Touchscreen Gloves, stepping up their game. The gloves feature a updated elegant design that takes these knitted gloves to the next level. A... Read more
Sale! Preorder the new 27-inch 5K iMac for $2...
 Abt Electronics has the new 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale and available for preorder for $2374.05 including free shipping. Their price is $125 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this... Read more
Simplex Solutions Inc. Brings Secure Web Surf...
New York based Simplex Solutions Inc. has announced the release and immediate availability of Private Browser 1.0, its revolutionary new secure web browser developed for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch... Read more

Jobs Board

Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** Every day, business customers come to the Apple Store to discover what powerful, easy-to-use Apple products can do for them. As a Business Leader, Read more
Sr. Manager, *Apple* Deployment Programs fo...
**Job Summary** Apple is seeking candidates for a new position on the Education Content and Technology team. iPad and Mac is in the hands of millions of teachers and Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple I...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple I...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple I...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.