13 August 2010

Chickens, coming home to roost

I see in the overnight news that the trades have picked up on the fact that Oracle (now owner of the former Sun's intellectual property in relevant part) has filed suit, on patent grounds against Google

Big Deal, right? Doesn't affect me, right?


Two years ago, the Linux Standards Base was talking about requiring Java functionalities in a 'conformant to the LSB standard' distribution. I spoke strongly against this as did Alan Cox, but as I am just one person; and Red Hat is largely uninterested in the LSB other than to conform to it to satisfy the 'checkbox' on an evaluation matrix, a 'trial use' of Java appeared in LSB 4.0

I asked the question and noted my response:

So, exposing people to an NDA, and potentially unlimited liability, and defense costs, in order to be be able to test and demonstrate their distribution is LSB complaint is fine?

I think not. I think the LSB cannot in good conscience place
distributions in the line of fire, until and unless the
testing tool is not a 'spring gun'.

The pain comes in part from this:

(f) you agree to defend and indemnify Sun and its licensors from and against any damages, costs, liabilities, settlement amounts and/or expenses (including attorneys' fees) incurred in connection with any claim, lawsuit or action by any third party that arises or results from

(i) the use or distribution of your Operating
System, or any part thereof, in any manner

... and it did not take a rocket scientist to see that patent threats were in the minefield:

LSB needs to decide how much and what kinds of risk [contractual NDA, contractual indemnification, trademark infringement, patent, copyright, more?] it is willing to ask distributions to expose themselves to, to become 'LSB compliant'.

The rubber has just hit the road; the chickens are on the glide path, coming home to roost. The hypotheticals just got instantiated, and the danger is real