Published in Editorials

What If All of the Java APIs were not free? How Many Applications Could no Longer Be Sold?

by on03 May 2012 1724 times

17In another installment of our “and that is why you fail” byline we come to the small dispute between Google and Oracle. On the table is not if Google use Java APIs or not, but the basic question of “are Java APIs free to use for development?” This issue is a huge one as a Google loss could set precedent for Oracle to go after ANYONE that is using the Java API without paying royalties to Oracle for their use.

Oracle has not said that it will not go after the thousands of applications that are using Java APIs without using the Java Logo (which is what used to cost you money). According to former Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, The APIs were free to use, it was the implementations that were competitive. So if Google is telling the truth and all they did was use the APIs to develop their own implementation Oracle has no real case (even Larry Ellison does not know if the APIs are free to use…). The problem is that in too many cases recently we see technically ignorant juries who end up siding with the “property” holders. This has happened in many cases with Apple Vs Android phone makers where Judges (who are supposed to know and interpret the law) make uninformed decisions and we could see the same thing happen here.

Still we can hope that the judges are paying attention to what is going on here and also understand the legal implications of this case (which should have not even been allowed to start). We see a case where one company is going after the guy with the fattest wallet, but in the end will put a serious dent in innovation and creativity. After all if the APIs are not really free to use I know of between 10-20 people that are guilty of “stealing” from Oracle and they have used those same APIs for their applications and are the core of their business.

We will be following this one (as with many things) and are really hoping that a precedent is set in the right direction. One that will help to prevent money grab style lawsuits like this one from happening over and over again.

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Last modified on 03 May 2012
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