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When is Open Source Not Open Source? When Oracle Owns the Patent

So, Oracle has sued Google over the use of Java in Android, and man, is Larry Ellison and his fiefdom taking it on the chin.

It's bad enough, apparently, that Oracle seems to be killing OpenSolaris, a move that has helped earn the company the nasty little nickname "SCOracle" (plus a comparison to Darth Vader—and, as you might imagine, we're not finished with those yet).

No, the Google suit has vaulted Oracle into full...well, into full Microsoft mode as the tech company to hate. Ellison and his not-so-merry band are all about "ego, money and power" now (Really? Larry Ellison, ego?), and have "raised [their] game to Sith level" with the Google suit. (See, there's the other Vader reference, and we're sure that there are more. We didn't even bother looking for Star Trek-related anti-Oracle rants.)

But we at RCPU aren't vilifying Oracle, even if, to be perfectly blunt, it has never been RCPU's favorite vendor. Quite the contrary, in fact. We're glad that Larry Ellison is taking legal action to prove that intellectual property should have monetary value -- even if all Oracle did was buy the intellectual property by purchasing the company that developed it and, incidentally, didn't really seem to care what other vendors did with it. (Maybe that's why Sun went down with the Oracle buyout.)

Besides that, we love Larry's willingness to play the bad guy and, in doing so, possibly perform the impossible and Microsoft's flailing mobile operating system relevant again. Oh, yes. You see, there are a couple of spectators laughing and doing high-fives over this whole thing. (Well, OK, they're probably not doing high-fives, but they are laughing.) One is Apple -- maker of the iPhone and the most proprietary software company ever. Whatever hurts Android is good for the iPhone, generally speaking.

The other is Microsoft, which, first of all, must be glad that somebody else is taking a beating in the press for once. Beyond that, a possibly weaker Android could bring Windows Phone 7 and the whole, mostly convoluted, Microsoft mobile strategy back to prominence -- if it was ever there to begin with. Oh, and, as the last article linked above points out, instability for Java is a potential bonus for .NET development.    

So, we're not here to compare Oracle to Darth Vader, Khan or any other sci-fi villain (especially since those are the only two we can think of). No, we at RCPU applaud Oracle for its litigiousness, no matter how unnecessary, ill-conceived and ridiculous it might be. Any partner who works with Windows Phone 7 probably feels the same way.

What's your take on Oracle's Java patent suit? Send it to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 08/16/2010 at 1:23 PM


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