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09 September 2010, 14:42

FSF: "We encourage Google to fight Oracle's claims"

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The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has said that it "encourages Google to fight Oracle's claims, and take a principled stand against all software patents" in a posting on the non-profit organisation's News blog by compliance engineer Brett Smith. The FSF appears to have positioned itself as against Oracle in the patent and copyright infringement lawsuit launched by Oracle against Google's Android in August, but is not unconditionally supportive of Google.

The foundation points out that previously Google "didn't seem particularly concerned" the problems of software patents and notes that Google "still has not taken any clear position or action against software patents". The FSF believes that Google could have avoided the legal action by Oracle by building Android on top of the GPL-licensed IcedTea Java implementation and that the company "shunned those protections in order to make proprietary software development easier on Android".

"None of that excuses Oracle's behaviour" says Smith, adding that, in 1994, Oracle was opposed to software patents yet is engaging in an "aggressive infringement suit over software patents". The FSF points out that Oracle once claimed to be only acquiring software patents for defensive purposes and now uses them to "proactively attack free software", then notes that Google currently claims they need software patents for the same reason.

The FSF says it encourages people to help collect information on the End Software Patents wiki to assist not only Google but other companies who "Oracle might sue in the future" and to write to Larry Ellison to "respectfully ask him why Oracle is attacking free software with software patents".


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