The jury is in and Google has triumphed in almost all phases of its trial against Oracle over the use of Java in Android. Oracle spent years nurturing its relationship with developers who use its products, including MySQL and NoSQL Database. But the company's aggressive move to assert its interest in Java - which is, after all, open source - puts the developer community's goodwill at risk. How badly has Oracle damaged its reputation?
Sun Microsystems was well-loved among developers. It created Java and gave it to the world, asking little in return. It took big bad Microsoft to court and won. Java is one of the most important software innovations of the Web era. Until it sold itself to Oracle.
Oracle acquired Sun in January 2010 and took all of seven months to bring charges against Google for infringing its rights to Java. The database king claimed that Google not only violated a variety of patents but copied the Java language and its application programming interfaces (APIs) outright. It sought damages of $6 billion - roughly a billion shy of what it paid for Sun. The case hasn't gone smoothly. As of last week, it looked as though Oracle does not have a strong claim to Google’s profits from its use of Java in Android.
And this is where Oracle has not only damaged its bottom line, but also its credibility. Java has been and will likely always be open source and free. Sun created it as such and developed it more as a steward than an owner. By attempting to copyright the API regardless of the impact it would have on the entire software ecosystem, Oracle has thrown the legal nature of computer languages and programming into question.
How badly have Oracle’s legal machinations hurt its brand? How badly have its legal machinations damaged its credibility with developers and the open source community? Take the poll below.