Former Sun CEO: Google Is Right, Java Was Free

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The multi-billion dollar legal drama between Google and Oracle regarding alleged infringement of Java-related licenses continues. This Wednesday, the former CEO of Oracle’s defunct subsidiary Sun Microsystems that created the Java language in the 90s – Jonathan Schwartz – testified at court in favor of Google. Schwartz stated that the Java language and its APIs were “free and open to use” since the very inception of the thereof, which was long before he even arrived at the company.

He went on to explain that Java was free because Sun was attempting to promote it among young and future developers, primarily those who were still attending schools and colleges. Schwartz also mentioned the GNU Classpath project, an open source Java-powered creation that stemmed from this policy and which Sun was subsequently forced to compete with. The former Sun CEO stated on record that GNU Classpath developers did not take any kind of license for using Java APIs and his former company obviously did not take them to court over that despite directly competing with them. Naturally, that’s because Sun already decided that Java and related APIs will be free in order to grow its developer community which would then hopefully purchase some of its other products. Projects such as GNU Classpath were an unfortunate side effect of that kind of policy, but one Sun fully expected and accepted. “I was annoyed, but it was completely consistent with our practices,” Schwartz explained.

Oracle’s lawyer Peter Bicks then attempted to discredit Schwartz by making him admit he resigned because his former employer didn’t offer him any senior management position and was “frustrated at his guidance”. He proceeded by bringing up Schwartz’s blog post celebrating the launch of Android and suggesting that due to his personal views, Sun’s former CEO may not exactly be the most unbiased witness, especially considering his aforementioned “beef” with Oracle itself. In addition to that, Bicks attempted to present Schwartz as a clueless CEO when he produced several articles which suggested the witness is one of the worst American CEOs in history. Schwartz responded by saying that those were the recession days and that “a lot of people were upset” back then, including him.


After failing to settle the Java-related dispute in April, Google and Oracle have returned to court this Monday and it remains to be seen how long will their latest trial last.