The trial of the ongoing legal case between Google and Oracle over Java APIs’ infringement has taken a rather interesting twist. Oracle acquired Java when it acquired Sun since Sun created Java. But now, former CEO of Sun, Jonathan Schwartz, has appeared in the trial and spoken in favor of Google, stating that Java, and its APIs, were meant to be free.
Schwartz’ testimony was a very interesting one. He started right from the start, when Sun first conceived the idea of creating Java. According to him, back in those days one either stuck with Microsoft for everything or, after Sun created it, used Java which would virtually run anywhere, ‘Wherever a web broswer appeared you could run that application. Write once, run anywhere, versus write a check to Microsoft to run it.’
He also stated that Java, and its APIs, were meant to be free. All Sun wanted to sustain its right on, was to have the right to use the name ‘Java’ and the legal right to allow anyone else to use, or not use, Java-related branding. According to him, though many others created implementations of the language, ‘only one could be called Java.’
His statements are very significant because of the fact that the chief point of contention between Oracle and Google is that Oracle alleges Google made use of four of Java’s 37 APIs and through that, violated Oracle’s intellectual property rights; Google, on the other hand, responds by saying that Java as well as its APIs are free, something which has been well affirmed by Schwartz too.
But it must be taken into consideration here that Schwartz was called by Google as a witness during the trial, and not by Oracle. When Google launched the Android platform, Schwartz also went forth to praise the efforts. Questioned upon this point, he responded by saying, ‘you can try to embrace it and build more value around the edges, or you can litigate and try to stop it’ and that Sun chose the first path.
Oracle was naturally not very happy with Schwartz weighing in for Google and Oracle’s general counsel didn’t forget to point out, towards the end of the hearing, that it was Google who invited him and not Oracle. Schwartz did have an answer to this too, ‘I was waiting for Oracle to invite me’ and that if Google chose to bring him in, ‘”I assume they felt i had value to add.’