Google's hand seen behind Myriad's Java lawsuit
Mobile Java specialist adds legal challenge against Oracle/Sun over Java charges
Published: 15 December, 2010
Google, Sun and Oracle once stood hand-in-hand in fighting Microsoft and promoting the thin Java/Linux client as a web-based alternative to the PC. Now the old alliance is disintegrating as Google battles with Sun owner Oracle over Java. The two are suing one another over claims over Java patents in Android, and now the hand of Google can be seen behind another Java lawsuit, brought by Myriad Group.
Swiss group Myriad works on mobile applications, particularly Java products and services for low end handsets. Among various acquisitions, it bought Esmertec, a specialist in mobile embedded Java, bringing apps to handsets that lack a fully fledged smartphone OS. The company filed suit on December 10 against Oracle, in the US District Court for the District of Delaware, alleging that Oracle was overcharging it for the use of Java.
There are links to the Google-Oracle fight. As NetworkWorld points out, one of the lawyers
representing Myriad, Scott Weingaertner, is also representing Google. Myriad is heavily involved in the Android community and Open Handset Alliance, and earlier this year announced Dalvik Turbo, a Java virtual machine that claims improved execution speed compared to Google's Dalvik. Google's virtual machine lies at the heart of its fight with Oracle because it does not comply with the mainstream JVM offered by Sun. Myriad also offers J2Android, a converter that turns Java MIDlets into Android applications.
Florian Mueller, an advocate on open source legal issues, told NetworkWorld: "It's easy to see how Myriad's complaint is in Google's interest. If Myriad succeeded, it might lower the license fees Oracle is allowed to charge for Java, and even though Oracle might still have legitimate reasons for denying Google a license on such terms or on any terms, a potential settlement between Oracle and Google would not be entirely detached from what Oracle charges other Java licensees."
The Myriad complaint derives from Sun's Java Community Process (JCP), which was designed as a semi-open source system of getting third party contributions for Java while keeping the platform standardized (Java is now fully open source). When joining the JCP, a company signed the JSPA (Java Specification Participation Agreement", and in so doing, licensed its IP rights to other members, receiving reciprocal licenses in return. The Myriad complaint says that Sun was supposed to license "certain of [its] intellectual property rights applicable to Java, either royalty-free or on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. Sun has consistently failed to honor those licenses."
Myriad also claims it has never used code from HotSpot, one of two JVMs developed by Sun, but was nevertheless required to sign a Sun Community Source License for HotSpot code. In addition, Sun imposed "unfair, unreasonable and discriminatory royalty-based terms" and required Myriad to sign a master support agreement, all of which led to excessive charges. The complainant is seeking at least $120m in over-charges plus damages.
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