Now that Oracle and Google are engaging in open warfare over Java patents surrounding Android, it’s reasonable to wonder whether litigation is the future of Java. But don’t worry. Oracle isn’t SCO. You don’t need to hide your Java code in a bomb shelter, or even disguise your developers using Groucho Marx masks. In fact, when it comes to enterprise development teams writing and deploying Java SE, Java ME or even Java EE applications, the lawsuit changes absolutely nothing. Keep on coding, keep on deploying, nothing to worry about.
The story may be different, however, if your business is to sell platforms that embed a Java runtime that’s not officially licensed by Oracle. Exhibit A, of course, is that Google’s Android platform uses the Dalvik virtual machine, which Oracle claims violates its patents.
If you make your money selling Java, perhaps it’s time to search for alternate sources of income. Certainly, Oracle hasn’t lined up targets other than Google yet, but if it wins the Android suit, that could spur further disputes.
It is a shame, however, that all of the attention being paid to the Oracle v. Google lawsuit isn’t also being directed toward the OpenJDK. That project is genuinely solving some of the traditional problems of the Java environment, and it’s currently one of the most happening areas in the field.
While JBoss, Spring and Tomcat continue to push forward the state of enterprise Java, the OpenJDK has gathered a real head of steam and interest thanks to tireless contributions from both inside and outside of Oracle.
Despite its vibrant community, the scope of the project means that the OpenJDK is likely two years from completion. Unfortunately, many of the Java luminaries we’ve spoken to cite the OpenJDK as the insurance policy that will keep users safe from patent litigation. Does that mean Java vendors will have to wait another two years before they can feel truly safe? It does look that way.