Java creator: Fears over consequences of possible Oracle trial win may be overblown

Don't expect any 'nightmare scenarios,' Java father James Gosling says

Should Oracle prevail in its intellectual-property lawsuit against Google over alleged Java patent and copyright violations in the Android mobile OS, it shouldn't result in the "industrial meltdown" some observers fear, Java creator James Gosling said in a blog post late Tuesday.

"A lot of what I've read gets really hyperbolic on the possibilities of the industrial meltdown that Oracle could conceivably cause," Gosling wrote. "Despite my well-known opinions on Oracle, they wouldn't do any of the nightmare scenarios that some have imagined: such a meltdown would not be in their own self interest. They have actually been unexpectedly good stewards of Java (although less so of Solaris)."

Oracle sued Google in August 2010. Google has denied wrongdoing, saying that Android employs a "clean room" implementation of Java that doesn't violate Oracle's rights.

The trial is being conducted in three phases, and the jury was set to continue its deliberations on Wednesday regarding Oracle's copyright claims, which involve a number of Java APIs (application programming interfaces).

Gosling did reveal he has some concerns about the outcome of the copyright claims.

"The wide implications of Oracle winning the copyright case are pretty disturbing," he wrote. "But that's a practical opinion. How it will go in the legal system is anyone's guess. It extends far beyond Oracle: developers everywhere use APIs defined by many other entities. I hate to think of what an emerging 'copyright troll' industry might be."

Gosling also expressed a mixed view of patent laws.

"I certainly think that the patent system is broken, but the system is what it is," he wrote. "The original basic theory makes sense to me, but what it's evolved into doesn't. At Sun [Microsystems] we had a near death experience after losing a case with IBM, after that we realized we had to play the game, no matter how bogus."

Oracle gained control of Java after it purchased Sun in 2009.

"The issue has always been interoperability. It's one of the major aspects that has made the Java community thrive," Gosling added. Sun used its Java patents "to enforce interoperability: follow the spec, you can use them for free. A good result for developers derived from a bogus patent system," he said.

In another recent blog post, Gosling wrote that he believed Google had "totally slimed Sun" and that Oracle was in the right in this case.

On Tuesday, he added that the "slimed" comment was a "personal moral opinion" and "not my guess at a legal result, or a legal opinion at all."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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