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Judge In Oracle-Google Case Given Crash Course in Java

Unknown Lamer posted more than 3 years ago | from the learn-java-in-one-hour dept.

Java 181

itwbennett writes "Lawyers for Oracle and Google gave Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco an overview of Java and why it was invented, and an explanation of terms such as bytecode, compiler, class library and machine-readable code. The tutorial was to prepare him for a claim construction conference in two weeks, where he'll have to sort out disputes between the two sides about how language in Oracle's Java patents should be interpreted. At one point an attorney for Google, Scott Weingaertner, described how a typical computer is made up of applications, an OS and the hardware underneath. 'I understand that much,' Alsup said, asking him to move on. But he had to ask several questions to grasp some aspects of Java, including the concept of Java class libraries. 'Coming into today's hearing, I couldn't understand what was meant by a class,' he admitted."

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Why not ? (4, Insightful)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755186)

I won't go to a Baseball match and be the whatever is the equivalent of a referee is! Judges need to be informed about the subject they are going to judge(?) on.

Re:Why not ? (1)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755220)

Yes, it sounds like everything is the way it should be. Judges are pretty smart people, at least at that level, and most of them are quite capable to grasp technical concepts and the legally important aspects of it.

Re:Why not ? (3, Insightful)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755830)

Please flip a coin. Many people who professionally deal with technology fail to grasp many important aspects.

Re:Why not ? (2)

MouseR (3264) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755956)

Yes, perhaps. But part of being a lawyer, and ultimately a judge, is to assimilate concepts and terminology and be able to make heads or tale with them so that they can balance out their judgement.

Ultimately, he wont be able to program or fully appreciate the complexity of it all, but he will know what re
refers to what and how it relates to the case at hand.

I assume it's not the first time judges need such informal training. I recall a similar story back when Apple was suing MS for the QuickTime code theft case, which led to the infamous investment-settlement of MS of 150m back when Apple was on the verge of craping out, when Jobs was brought back on board to save the company.

I'm glad this case is getting judge's attention.

DISCLAIMER: I work for Oracle. This opinion is my own.

Re:Why not ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755256)

But in this situation, the judge isn't adjudicating the rules of Java or even Computer Science, but rather patent law. And I suspect that this judge is an informed expert in the field of patent law.

You don't have to be a mechanic or even a licensed driver to detect when someone is speeding.

Re:Why not ? (5, Insightful)

Mouldy (1322581) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755316)

You would need to be some sort of mechanical or engineering background information, however, to determine if party B's mechanical system is different enough from party A's mechanical system to rule on some sort of patent issue between the 2 parties. To one person, an engine is an engine. They don't care if it's petrol, diesel or rocket fuel. It's the loud bit that makes vehicles move.

Someone determining whether or not the latest engine by VW (for example) is too similar to an engine previously made by Alfa Romeo is going to need to know more than "an engine is the loud bit that makes vehicles move" - somebody is going to have to explain the details behind the mechanics. Based on this information, they might decide that the engine as a whole isn't a rip-off, but maybe the odd way the valves are set up is suspiciously similar. It would be unfair to make a judgement without the extra technical knowledge.

Re:Why not ? (3, Insightful)

zevans (101778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755634)

You don't have to be a mechanic or even a licensed driver to detect when someone is speeding.

You don't. Until it's a sufficiently complicated case, and then, you do.

We had a case in the UK a couple of years ago where an econobox type small car was "detected" speeding at 90-some mph. The guy got an expert witness involved to prove that the car was simply not capable of the claimed speed in the prevailing conditions. The expert largely spent his time explaining advanced driving and mechanics to the magistrates.

Similarly with intellectual property... if you find a cut-and-paste into a document, complete with Mountweazles, then it's pretty black and white.

If on the other hand you are arguing about what's generic software and what is an interpretation and what is an algorithm, then, well, good luck with that; but you'll certainly need to understand the argot, and that is not standard International English by any means.

Re:Why not ? (2)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755510)

There are so many IT-related claims and lawsuits that you might even consider having specially trained judges. Don't you also have special judges for traffic related incidents?

Re:Why not ? (4, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755528)

Don't you also have special judges for traffic related incidents?

Yes, they have a special title: Punished

Re:Why not ? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755570)

In England there is a separate Patent Court for patent and copyright issues. The judgement in the ACS:Law cases makes good reading, the judge in the Patent County Court hearing that case very clearly understands these things.

Re:Why not ? (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755930)

Why specially trained judges? Why not simply pull from the existing expertise to make them judges? It works really well when various copyright lobbyists out there become members of government working and making decisions and rulings in the same fields.

(Yeah I am sick of it too)

Re:Why not ? (4, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755938)

Judges are not supposed to be specialists they should be generalists, because they need to understand the effects of the decisions they make in a broad societal context. What they need to be is REALLY SMART. We as a society need to do what we can to put some of the best and brightest on the bench.

This judge is a great example of how to do it right! He is not technical expert he is a legal expert and he smart enough to:

A) Know what he does not know
B) Recognize that he needs to be educated about what he does not know to make a good ruling
C) Learn and understand new possibly foreign concepts quickly enough to keep the legal system at least sort of efficient.

I applaud this fully!

Re:Why not ? (3, Interesting)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#35756044)

Don't you also have special judges for traffic related incidents?

I got a speeding ticket a few years ago. I read up on all the relevant laws and knew that while I couldn't get off, I could get the fine reduced and also not get points if the judge allowed me to do a driver ed course (online even!). I also knew that what I was asking for was quite reasonable and done all the time. So I went to court and discovered that the normal traffic judge was out for the day and there was another judge in his place. As I was early for my case, I sat there and listened to all the people ahead of me asking for the same thing that I had planned for. Yet each time the stand-in judge kept saying "I can't do that". I felt like jumping up and yelling at the judge "damn well you can - you're the judge".

The state I am in also says that there is no justification for speeding of any sort, yet this judge let off a guy who said he was speeding to get away from a truck - even though the cop who booked him said that he did not see any such truck

So the answer to your question is that (from my 1 point datum) that not only don't you have special judges, judges don't have to know the law of what they are judging

Re:Why not ? (4, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755524)

I won't go to a Baseball match and be the whatever is the equivalent of a referee is! Judges need to be informed about the subject they are going to judge(?) on.

Exactly. Shouldn't most of us - those of us who want to see some sort of software patent reform, limitations, or even outright abolishment - be lauding the public display of a judge who wants and needs to learn about technology in order to address the software patent debacle? Just because he's already experienced in patent law doesn't mean he knows enough about the subject matter before his court.

Educating someone about the subject they are deciding, administering, governing, or even adjudicating over can't be a bad thing.

Re:Why not ? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755818)

which is why judges have law clerks.

They already have this generally available for whatever happens to be needed.

Re:Why not ? (5, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755944)

It depends on who's doing the educating. The patent industry has done a fine job in "educating" Judges in the utility and indeed necessity of modern patent law as it is practised. Do you really want the software industry to start indoctrinating judges as well.

If the judge is unable to rule on the case, they should simply say so. If the government cannot find a judge to hear the case, then it is an overwhelmingly technical matter, not a legal one, and should be thrown out of the courts. If the government still needs to hear these cases, then they must either establish specialised courts or find some other method of dealing with them.

Far too much faith is placed in the court system by far too many. It is not the effective, impartial font of justice that many fantasise it to be. It's a creaking, rusty relic of a medieval property arbitration for the wealthy and powerful, with a criminal punishment system tacked on to protect that same property. It is failing miserably to deal with modern society, and sooner or later we're going to end up paying for it. The rise of private arbitration and legal fraud by major corporations is a symptom of how discredited rule of law by the court has become.

Re:Why not ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755606)

I believe the word you're looking for is "umpire." Or are you feigning ignorance as to not hurt your nerd street cred? The way you chose to phrase it is comical.

Re:Why not ? (1)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35756192)

It's a baseball "game"—cricket has matches—and the word you're looking for is "umpire."

Oracle made a big mistake (2, Interesting)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755194)

in letting James "Father of Java" Gosling go to Google.

In a case where the judge is learning about Java, and where testimony may be taken on the history of Java, it can't help to have its creator on the other side.

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755304)

Pascal and P-Code. I'm sure they want to narrow it down to Java.
Interpreted languages existed before then, and other languages had classes predating Java.
Interpreted Fortran and Interpreted Fluid dynamic languages also pre-date. OO REXX too.
And those that did compiler 101 at Uni are all about the same, with a big fat library of 'calls' that all converged
of very common 'wants'.

It boils down to wanting to make a buck on the 'Brandname' , and being a gatekeeper to wanted extensions, say Apple
BASIC, MS BASIC, COMMODORE BASIC, ATARI BASIC - did not have those fights back then.
Nothing is original, and suing people for dialects or accents on a language is nonsense.

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (3, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755554)

You know, despite all the "Oracle boo, Google yay" fanboyism we see here at /. I still haven't heard anybody give a reasonable answer as to why this isn't the exact same as the MS Java mess which everyone was cheering when Sun shut it down?

The point to having licensing with regards to Java at Sun was to keep third parties from fracturing Java and it sounds like this is what Davilk or however you spell it is doing. If MS renamed MS Java to MS Coffee would that have made it okay? After all it isn't Java, it just runs Java code! To me the whole thing smells like fanoyism and bullshit. But to me hypocrisy is hypocrisy, and if it was bad for MS to fracture Java then so too is it bad for Google.

And call me weird, but I still don't get why FOSS fans run to the defense of Google. They aren't letting you have the Android 3.0 source, they've historically kept the best bits like their file system (built on FOSS) to themselves to give them an advantage, and they've purposely gone out of their way to disallow any GPL V3 which means Android is most likely gonna end up TiVo'd, yet the FOSS fans run to their rescue? I just don't get it.

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (4, Informative)

TheSunborn (68004) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755654)

The difference is that Microsoft used and modified Suns software and source-code under a specific contract from Sun. Google don't use any code from Sun.

And I did really not cheer when Sun shut it down. What Microsoft did was to identify a real world problem where Java really missed some features(And java still miss this. Writing gui code in java is still painfull due to missing delegates/function pointers).

What sun should have done was to realize that Microsoft did find a giant feature hole in java. So sun should have changed java to add the features which Microsoft needed (And the rest of the gui developing world) missed.

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755698)

java has function pointers. Or at least, something that is functionally identical, if requiring more complex code.

The syntax is clunky and horrible, but they exist.

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755792)

I think he's actually complaining that since microsoft didn't feel properly accommodated under the licensing agreement they originally agreed to that Sun/Oracle should have allowed them more freedom. I guess I'd have to agree, as long as that standard is also applied to microsoft's (and all other) code!

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (1)

markkezner (1209776) | more than 3 years ago | (#35756018)

Java doesn't really need function pointers. You can just as easily create a class that implements some arbitrary interface that does what you're trying to do. Where you would normally pass a function pointer in another language, you would instead pass an instance of a class that implements your interface. When the code wants to call your function, it calls yourInstance.doSomething() instead of dereferencing a function pointer.

Anyway leaving function pointers out of Java was probably a deliberate design decision. Off the top of my head I don't know the exact reasoning for it.

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (4, Informative)

DrXym (126579) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755684)

You know, despite all the "Oracle boo, Google yay" fanboyism we see here at /. I still haven't heard anybody give a reasonable answer as to why this isn't the exact same as the MS Java mess which everyone was cheering when Sun shut it down?

Because Google never claimed Android or Dalvik was compatible with Java, and hasn't used the term Java except in context of the language both VMs share. Indeed they take great pains in technical documentation to explain how Dalvik is not the same as Java and incompatible.

Microsoft basically tried to co-opt the Java brand, the trademark & logo, extended the system in some ways (delegates, CAB files) and omitting other parts (JNI, Jar files etc.) and palmed it off as Java / J++ even though it was not compatible.

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (3, Insightful)

pem (1013437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755690)

why this isn't the exact same as the MS Java mess which everyone was cheering when Sun shut it down?

From a legal perspective, Java wasn't open-sourced back in the day. Microsoft had a copy of the source and a contract, and violated the contract, by changing the source to make it incompatible and still calling it java. Google has written a VM from the ground up which is different than what MS did. Sort of like Tivoization -- RMS didn't like it, but his license didn't allow it.

From a political perspective, what google's doing is about making the software work well on the platform, not about introducing deliberate incompatibilities.

And call me weird, but I still don't get why FOSS fans run to the defense of Google. They aren't letting you have the Android 3.0 source, they've historically kept the best bits like their file system (built on FOSS) to themselves to give them an advantage, and they've purposely gone out of their way to disallow any GPL V3 which means Android is most likely gonna end up TiVo'd, yet the FOSS fans run to their rescue? I just don't get it.

Because they have let us have the source to the bestselling smartphone platform ever, and we expect they will hand over Honeycomb source when they're happy with it (just as they did with the previous versions), and because the "O" is FOSS encompasses a huge community, some members of which think that if you want to share your source, that's awesome, but if you want to keep something locked up, that's OK too, and that RMS is a dickhead who seeks to divide the community while pretending to unite it.

Swallowing the claim that the open source world is worse off because of google's actions requires a significant helping of RMS's kool-aide. Making the claim can be done either with RMS's kool-aide, or with astroturf money from Microsoft.

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (3, Insightful)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755736)

If MS renamed MS Java to MS Coffee would that have made it okay?

Of course it would be okay, OSS advocates love forks so long as a spade keeps getting called a spade and so long as when something claims to be standards compliant to something it is. and how is that situation different from c#? java and c# share many similarities and most of the changes seem to be for the sake of change, because it made no illusion to being java at all nobody kicked up a stink.

People defend google because in comparison to most other companies they are pretty good when it comes to being mindful of the way they act with people.

Not everything has to be open source, what a lot of people here like is the ability to tinker and create your own things and being able to do what you wish with the things you make.

If I wrote from scratch something like android I wouldn't mind the ability to do with it as I please, just as google is. What people don't like are those that sue with patents and the like to stop people having the freedom to think up their own devices and applications.

The OSS advocates that think all source code should be open are a minority, the majority are simply pragmatic and realize the benefits of an open source development model and of using software that uses that model.

The slashdot crowd only have a few common things, but I would think one of them would be wanting freedom to do things as they wish, if they want to write closed software, they are entitled to.

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (4, Insightful)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755916)

why this isn't the exact same as the MS Java mess which everyone was cheering when Sun shut it down?

I'm sure you're get many an answer but here's the short answer.

Microsoft purposely failed to maintain currency as well as created incompatibilities. This had the effect of giving people a very bad taste in their mouth with Java since they were providing the defacto implementation on Windows; since it was bundled. This had the effect of damaging the Java brand; which was entirely Microsoft's intention, so as to push their own technology. It was part of their classic embrace and extend strategy and was extremely anti-competitive.

Google, on the other hand, is using the official java compiler and tools. Oracle's Java compiler then creates JVM bytecode. Google translates that JVM bytecode into Dalvik bytecode and packages it up into an application (apk). As such, its technically correct to say, Android programs are created using the Java language syntax and a subset of the Java framework. Their framework comes from freely available sources and is compiled using official, freely available, Java technology.

The differences are profound.

Basically it boils down to Oracle being pissed Google did an end-run around Oracle's Java ME implementation and licensing requirements by creating their own Java ME VM-like environment (Dalvik VM). Oracle simply doesn't have a case. At least not that I've seen so far.

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755990)

The MS Java MESS? What the heck are you talking about? MS Java actually worked and had many security patches - none of which ever broke an application. Sun / Oracle Java breaks MULTIPLE applications every time they ship an "update". They don't even do security patches; they just release a new version with new features, deprecated features, and oh - if you want to be secure you have to run the new version. But, applications don't work so you can't run the new version. The Sun / Oracle Java is a massive fuck up of a project. Idealistically the MS one was a bad idea and the fact that it had extensions to make it run better on Windows was bad too. But as far as how they ran it - it was done much much better than Sun / Oracle run their Java. We still can't deploy the "secure" 1.6.24 version of Java to our 80,000 machines because it breaks to many applications.

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755326)

while he may not know too much about java, the judge knows the law. and i can think of no situation where 'look, we have that guy now' makes any bit of difference legally.

I believe the GP's intent is about testimony (1)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755454)

That is to say that Gosling would be an "ace in the hole" to have as a friendly witness when it comes to explaining what bits of Java were standard applications of known art in the field and which bits of Java are unique.

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755354)

Why? Gosling isn't the one holding the patents, he has no standing in this.

Be that as it may (1)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755460)

Gosling in a unique position to explain to a judge (or a jury) which parts of Java are standard applications of computer science and which parts of Java are innovative.

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (1)

KenRH (265139) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755560)

Why? Gosling isn't the one holding the patents, he has no standing in this.

No, but he may have lots of good information about what was common knowledge (among experts in this field) at the time of the development of Java. Also what pre-existing knowledge and systems the inventors of Java had for inspiration when developing it.

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755692)

In that case, if Gosling was in any way involved in the patents on Java, Oracle (through the Sun legacy) may have a case against Gosling personally for deceptive practices.

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (0)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755770)

And you have a great case for being the biggest idiot in the known Universe. "Deceptive practices"? Where the fuck did that phrase come from and how the hell could it possibly apply here?

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35756098)

Using your favorite search engine is too technically difficult for you?

Deceptive practices are when you assert industry knowledge knowing full well its contrary to industry knowledge. Basically, its exactly as it sounds - being deceptive.

An example would be a lawyer telling his client the law very clearly protects a specific behavior, when in fact, he knows this instruction opens his client up to massive liability.

As for technical circles, an example would be a network consultant telling his client token ring is the preferred and defacto networking technology.

I know its shocking, but purposely being deceptive in a professional role is frowned on by the law.

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755574)

He is an expert witness, and Google are one of the parties in the case.

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755708)

Again, so? Whats he going to testify to?

prior art and which portions are new (2)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35756012)

Gosling is in a rather unique position to testify to which parts of Java and its virtual machine implementation are obvious applications of existing methods in the industry and which parts are innovative, new, and worthy of being patented.

As such, he would be helpful to have as a friendly witness.

In that regards, it's kind of irrelevant that Gosling went to Google. Oracle's mistake was running Sun in a way that pissed Gosling off.

Re:Oracle made a big mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755946)

in letting James "Father of Java" Gosling go to Google.

In a case where the judge is learning about Java, and where testimony may be taken on the history of Java, it can't help to have its creator on the other side.

You're presuming Gosling would actually set out to help the side that's paying him, regardless of the truth.

I'm glad, honestly. (1)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755202)

It is always good to have a judge educated on these types of manners... I mean ignorant decisions help no-one.

Being that the actual link was of no help I can only (Slashdot-style) speculate not much will happen.

I appreciate the update, honestly I do, and I do believe that I still hate Oracle. (I refrained from trolling)

(GO GOOGLE!)

Re:I'm glad, honestly. (2)

LordNacho (1909280) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755444)

How is the judge going to learn enough about Java, in a way that is unbiased by the lawyers for each side, in a few weeks, to make a sensible decision? Doesn't he need to know a fair bit about how Java code is used, who uses it, what for, etc?

Re:I'm glad, honestly. (1)

DarenN (411219) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755502)

No, because that's not what the dispute is about.

Re:I'm glad, honestly. (4, Insightful)

malkavian (9512) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755544)

How is a software engineer, in a few weeks, going to learn enough about a particular field to go and be able to obtain a spec document from a client? Answer, they don't, they just learn enough to be able to communicate with the experts, and translate their knowledge into relevance for the task at hand.

Really, the Judge in question seems to be entirely on the ball. He doesn't need to know how to apply the relevant parts in a program of his own; he just needs to understand generally what the basic principle is. You know, the kind of thing that got explained in a couple of hours of a lecture at the beginning of a degree. A bit above layman, but nowhere near enough to be a full on practitioner. When you know enough of what the base principles are, you get the ability to make sensible questions on the deeper detail.
All the judge needs to know is how this language detail translates into the field of law,

Re:I'm glad, honestly. (5, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755578)

How is the judge going to learn enough about Java, in a way that is unbiased by the lawyers for each side, in a few weeks, to make a sensible decision? Doesn't he need to know a fair bit about how Java code is used, who uses it, what for, etc?

He needs to understand the concepts of Java, not all the implementation details and not how to code/debug/code/scream/debug/sigh/debug/relief java. And he doesn't need to be able to read Java or its syntax.

A quick overview of Java features that are not unique to Java will also help eliminate a lot of the clutter. He needs to understand using or extending classes (ie, the Java class libraries) but not have to worry about all the possibilities of public/private properties & methods, inheritance, polymorphism or other common OOP mechanisms.

Re:I'm glad, honestly. (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755730)

Well, assuming he doesn't have anything else going on during the run-up to that hearing, he could check out the open courseware for Stanford's into comp sci course [academicearth.org] , which is taught in Java. not that he's likely to be reading this, or that lawyers are interested in turning the judge into a programmer.

Understanding (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755206)

To be fair, I have no idea what class means either, I drink straight out of the toilet & still prefer to do so instead of listening to such details.

java was created, not invented (0)

dirtyhippie (259852) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755228)

java was created, not invented. you'd think a story about intellectual property would be a little more careful with such terms.

Re:java was ?, not invented (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755272)

To create something is to make something out of 'nothing'. Nobody can do that. What the right term should be instead of 'invented' is 'written'. But I feel that Unknown Lamer is trying to use a closer word other than created.

Re:java was ?, not invented (1)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755306)

out of nothing ? You can't just create a computer language out of nothing. Unless you are telling me about some universe or something, this work was based on something else.

Re:java was ?, not invented (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755790)

"To make a computer language from scratch, you must first create the Universe"

I'm sorry, Mr. Sagan, I won't butcher your quote again...

--
BMO

Re:java was ?, not invented (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755364)

To create something is to make something out of 'nothing'.

No. To create something means to bring things which already exist into a new form/structure/relationship which they didn't have before.
Creation out of nothing doesn't exist in this world, therefore defining "to create" as such would make it useless for anything happening in the world.

Re:java was created, not invented (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755278)

Well presumably the parts to which patents apply were too "invented".

Re:java was created, not invented (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755666)

As semantic distinctions go you are on particularly shaky ground. Collins makes use of invent in its definitions of create and vice versa. Described usage within both definitions would fit fine so actually I think the statement would have been grammatically accurate using either. It seems possible that the distinction you are trying to draw exists only in your own head rather than in shared reality.

Humility is great... (4, Insightful)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755236)

But when you have no clue about what software development is, then how on earth would you be able to judge trials about it fairly? Are the lawmakers that arrogant that they think they can understand the basics of software development in about one sitting, when an engineer have to study the subject for several years? Why not turn the tables around. Let's take a prominent developer with a nice career. Have this judge and some of his fellows give him a a one day crasch course on business law, what to do when a lawyer says "objection" and so on. I'll bet my ass we would get much more reasonable and logical judgements that way.

Re:Humility is great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755264)

All they really need to know what programs are and their makeup, They don't need to implement Fibonacci sequences recursively

He does not have to understand Java. (2)

master_p (608214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755286)

All that he needs is to understand the underlying concepts, which can be explained to him in terms of other analogies he understands.

For example, translation to byte code can be presented as a grocery list written in a foreign language; the person that is to go to the grocery and buy the stuff will have to translate the list to his native language, either one time (JIT compilation) or one item at a time (interpreter).

Great analogy, but ... (4)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755488)

That's got the beginnings of a great analogy, but the implentation fails.

Traditional compilation: the grocery list is sent to a translater, who translates the whole list at once. This list is then given to a shopper who can read it.

JIT: An interpreter goes with the shopper and translates one item at a time as the shopper reads the list, but the translation for each item is written on a new list so that once it's translated, the shopper doesn't have to ask for a translation for that item.

Traditional interpreter: An interpreter goes with the shopper and every time the shopper looks at the list, the interpreter has to translate regardless of how many times a given item occurs on the list.

Re:Great analogy, but ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755750)

This introduces one huge risk. If you simplify it far enough that it's easy enough to understand, you are by necessity downplaying the novelty of any underlying patent.

The trick is to not simplify (1)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755942)

An analogy aids comprehension by translating the idea from an unfamiliar context to a familiar context. One can simplify but it isn't necessary to the analogy.

One should simplify, of course, but not too much. Was it Einstein that advocated making things as simple as possible but no simpler? A fair amount of simplification can be done, especially when the invention can be reduced to implementing mathematics, but at a certain point, the simplification crosses the line and what you're left with is something other than what you've started with.

Re:Humility is great... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755292)

...Let's take a prominent developer with a nice career. Have this judge and some of his fellows give him a a one day crasch course on business law, what to do when a lawyer says "objection" and so on. I'll bet my ass we would get much more reasonable and logical judgements that way.

this happens everyday, its called a jury.

Re:Humility is great... (1)

swell (195815) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755340)

Yes, humility is great.

Judges have to decide a wider variety of matters than a hardcore software developer can conceive of. Matters that can be technical or delicate or earth shaking. It's fantastic to see a judge go the extra mile in the interest of fairness.

Re:Humility is great... (2)

heathen_01 (1191043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755802)

Its a sad state of affairs when getting yourself educated on the subject matter at hand is described as going the extra mile.

And that's the problem with IP law... (3, Informative)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755428)

But when you have no clue about what software development is, then how on earth would you be able to judge trials about it fairly?

That is the problem with IP laws on technology: there are very, very few people with the combination of legal knowledge and technical knowledge needed to enforce them sensibly (and, in the case of patents, a lack of Renaissance Men with the required level of omniscience to make the hair-thin but crucial judgements about obviousness etc.*). Solution: don't pass laws that are impossible to enforce fairly (don't hold your breath).

(Does anybody know if Einstein was any good as a patent officer? "Sorry sir, what was that about claim 137b? I was daydreaming about riding on a beam of light...")

Re:Humility is great... (2, Insightful)

LordNacho (1909280) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755468)

...Are the lawmakers that arrogant that they think they can understand the basics of software development in about one sitting, when an engineer have to study the subject for several years?

Well, yes. Lawmakers and judges always think then can decide on things they don't understand. Otherwise everything would be decided by guilds. Might be a good thing, btw.

Re:Humility is great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755672)

The tutorial was to prepare him for a claim construction conference (also called a Markman hearing) in two weeks, where he'll have to sort out disputes between the two sides about how language in Oracle's Java patents should be interpreted.

IANAL but it sounds as if someone incredibly learned on a subject would actually be *detrimental* to this sort of hearing since they would come in knowing something before they came in.

But when you have no clue about what software development is, then how on earth would you be able to judge trials about it fairly?

The judge is basically following the letter of the patent as he/she feels is proper. Now, yeah there's a lot of jargon in these patents, but first off the judge isn't here to really understand the damned things. He's just reading the patent and making a decision as to whether Item A and Item B are the same, or effectively the same thing.

The reason an expert would actually be detrimental is that they'd already have formed an opinion about it.

"Oh well, patent X covers norgles, and I *know* because I'm so educated on the subject that a wogboggle is the same as a norgle so patent X cover it too!"

But wait, no it doesn't. Patent X explicitly is stated to only cover norgles, not wogboggles. So if a wogboggle based item comes out, then it's not infringing. The lawyers would come out and say "oh dearie me, but nargles and wogboggles are the same!" and the other group would state "Nargles are NOT wogboggles! And now we're countersuing you for smearing our good name!" Since the judge doesn't know what's what, he just has to read the patent on the page then state what he feels about the norgle/wogboggle issue. He's not here to enforce his own opinion on the norgle/wogboggle battle, instead he's just supposed to look at it from an objective point of view, and follow exactly the letter of the law (not the spirit because once you start following the *spirit* of something, it's a crapshoot).

What the lawyers here are supposed to do in this crash course is just lay out factual information and nothing else. But the article notes that there was already disagreeing and general cattiness between the two parties (they each got a 30 minute window to present their "objective" information). They both attempted to influence the judge in this period to believe that norgles are wogboggles or that they aren't wogboggles or whatever you want. I'd love, frankly *love* some form of objective informant, but barring that, the opposing sides both presenting their case seems the way to get so much bias on both sides, they'd cancel out.

So anyhow, although having a judge know exactly wtf he's ruling on is nice, he doesn't need to know every aspect of the damned thing to make a just ruling. Sometimes it's detrimental. Unless of course, if a wogboggle is *already* infringing on norgles, or ifr an idiot and an expert would both, upon holding the objects in their hands exclaim "These are exactly the same! I can't tell the difference!" Then yeah. But barring that...

Note that I know nothing about this case, I have no idea what the hell Oracle and Google are fighting about, and I'm assuming the judge is a fairly fellow and won't be tricked by the lawyers. If the judge is an idiot then this entire thing goes up in smoke.

Re:Humility is great... (2)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755766)

You know, I am also hit by amazement when people like that make important decisions based on partial knowledge and bad analogies about how software works, but I think it is making the exact same mistake to think that a one day crash course will tell you all the provisions that are necessary before making a judgement in business law. To understand how international companies are organized, what a claim is and is not, who can make that, what constitutes an infraction, and so on. Saying you can tell in one day what to do when a lawyer says "objection" is like saying you can teach in one day what to do when a software crashes.

Re:Humility is great... (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755788)

Oh, c'mon. The issues to be decided here aren't any more abstruse than in any other kind of engineering case. Nor are the *vast* majority software developers any more competent to make technical judgments than the judge would be after a few days prep time. Sure, developers more apt to have some idea of what a virtual machine is beforehand, but that idea is to vague to be of much use. How many could explain the difference between a stack machine and a register machine? Or give any kind of explanation of how a compiler optimizer does what it is supposed to? Not many. If you narrowed the pool of "judges" down to people who understood the technology involved to make *technical* judgments in this case, the pool would be tiny and probably consist of people who had a stake in the outcome of the case.

Fortunately, that's not what we need the judge to do. He doesn't have to make decisions about the applications of technology; he has to make decisions about the application of *law*. And it's way better this way. You get the software experts up to make their arguments, and see if they can convince somebody who doesn't have a pre-formed opinion. If one side doesn't have a leg to stand on, it'll show. If both sides have arguments that would sound reasonable to another expert, you want the judge to apply the law without ruling on which side of the dubious question is right. An expert in virtual machine technology couldn't do that impartially. If we followed *your* suggestion, we'd have courts making engineering decisions. What the court should do is rely upon engineering consensus where it exists, and not interfere with the development of that consensus where it doesn't yet.

The drawback of this system is that it depends on having a judge who is good at grasping the essentials of what is at stake. But software developers are ordinary mortals, and a little humility would do us a lot of good. True, not everyone can *do* what we do, but unlike particle physicists or poets we make our living doing things that don't take uncommon intellectual talent to grasp.

Of course, judges *do* often get things horribly wrong, but not more often than software developers get things horribly wrong. It's just the nature of the law that its failures have a wider impact. When you fail as a software developer, somebody who decided to rely upon you is disappointed. When you fail as a judge, people who had no involvement or choice at all are swept into that failure. I think where we've seen horribly misguided legal rulings on technical matters, its because the judge latched onto the kind of specious analogy that politicians often deal with when they talk technology. Even when a politician's intentions are good and the results of using the analogy positive ("information superhighway"), that's not a precise enough understanding to make legal rulings. This guy is doing the right thing and going to school, not exaggerating his prior understanding.

Re:Humility is great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35756076)

When you fail as a software developer, somebody who decided to rely upon you is disappointed.

Often a developer's failure is limited to a busted web page or something equally trivial. Other times, it's a little more serious than that [wikipedia.org] , with wide-ranging effects.

Sudden outbreak of common sense! (1)

feedayeen (1322473) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755258)

This is remarkable, a judge who likely majored in English or Philosophy as an undergraduate, realized that his education background left him unqualified to decide on a case involving technology and has thus decided to take the equivalent of the first day in a computer science class to actually obtain some grasp on the subject. Imagine if the RIAA trials had judges like this?

Re:Sudden outbreak of common sense! (2)

Confusador (1783468) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755508)

Imagine if the RIAA trials had had billion dollar companies (and their comparably priced lawyers) on both sides. I suspect the judges would have had to get an education just to understand the replies.

apparatus for generating executable code (2)

doperative (1958782) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755290)

"A method and apparatus for generating executable code and resolving data references in the generated code is disclosed"

'The other patents discussed Wednesday are the '702 patent, which describes a method for stripping out redundant class files to make the final code run faster; and the '520 patent, a method for simulating how code will run before it actually runs, then producing more concise code to perform the actual operation'

Re:apparatus for generating executable code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755722)

They patented the most general description of a compiler and linker?

Think yourselves lucky (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755300)

We brits have judges who had to ask what a website is (in 2007!)
http://www.metro.co.uk/news/49376-judge-asks-what-is-a-website

kinda reminds me of the classic 'Not The Nine O'Clock News Sketch'

Counsel: This receipt is for the digital watch...
Judge: ...a digital watch? What on earth is a "digital watch"?
Counsel: Sorry m'lud. A digital watch is a watch worked by microelectronics.
Judge: Oh! How fascinating. Proceed.
Counsel: The next receipt is for an automatic video recorder...
Judge: ..."automatic video recorder"?
Counsel: Yes, I'm sorry m'lud. It's a machine that records television programmes on special tape.
Judge: Oh, how fascinating. What will they think of next? Proceed.
Counsel: Thank you m'lud. And finally, a receipt for a "deluxe model inflatable woman", whatever that is.
Judge: The Deluxe is the one with the real hair...

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=not+the+nine+o%27clock+news&aq=0

Re:Think yourselves lucky (1)

lurcher (88082) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755470)

Ok, I will bite, why not explain to us just what a website actually is? And equally to the point, where it is?

Lawyers? (2)

SmilingBoy (686281) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755310)

Lawyers for Oracle and Google gave Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco an overview of Java [...].

Thinking about the tech knowledge of the lawyers I know, I am not sure that the Judge is a lot wiser now!

Re:Lawyers? (2)

tdc_vga (787793) | more than 3 years ago | (#35756176)

I'm sure you were trying to be funny, but I'd hope that both Google and Oracle would have had enough brains to bring in qualified attorneys.

I'm a full-time appellate attorney and co-founder of the Azureus Bit-Torrent client (written in Java, but don't blame me for Vuze -- I left the project long before then). I've taught classes on computer security and advanced programming at 4-year universities. I also speak around the country on both legal and security topics (DefCon, Shmoocon, ToorCamp, and various legal-bar events etc.). I've spoken on anything from constitutional issues, intellectual property, contracts law, reverse engineering, code design, etc. Actually, the latest talks I'm working on are on advanced techniques with Python bytecode. So, yes, while most attorneys would have a hard time explaining these topics to judges, not all of them would and I'm hopeful that the judge was presented with competent people.

And, yes, I've had to explain computer topics to both attorneys and judges -- they understood them. Conversely, I've had to explain legal topics to software engineers -- they also understood them. It's really not that difficult, and you'd be amazed at how similar some of the concepts really are.

Cheers,
    T

Law crash course (1)

IAmAI (961807) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755330)

May be it would be easier if we gave a Java expert a crash course in Law and let him be the judge. Or may be not...

Re:Law crash course (1)

dragonquest (1003473) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755386)

Maybe yes! But seriously, is this the beginning of a special kind of judges equipped to handle tech related and IP issues? Wouldn't be too bad if some geeks get in there.

Re:Law crash course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755980)

Too bad they'd had to apply the law completely alien to their reality and understanding of it. It would be somewhat torturous. On the other hand, if the majority of the legislators would be geeks in the US as well as in the other WIPO members, things could change. In the national elections here, for example, the amount of prominent candidates professing some geek knowledge is countable with a single hand.

Dangerous precedent (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755342)

This is setting a very dangerous precedent... surely the RIAA will lobby to make it illegal for judges to understand what they're ruling about.

A crash course squeezed into one day... (1)

Coisiche (2000870) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755406)

Well that immediately makes him more knowledgeable than much of the management here.

Re:A crash course squeezed into one day... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755504)

We're knowledgeable enough to know when you're posting about us on Slashdot. Now please report to Human Resources..

Epistemology, bizaches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755588)

You're knowledgeable enough to know when one techy employee says another employee is posting on slashdot. That's not the same as the thing you said....

been before alsup before (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755414)

Judge Alsup is a very interesting Judge. He is a complete hardass who doesn't take any crappy and wants things done exactly his way. Often he does this beyond what is probably fair, but he will hold the parties feet to the fire on what they do. He has had software cases before him before, and he definitely has the intellect to be able to handle this one. People who make off the cuff commentator about how dumb lawyers and/or judges are have never work with or against them in the context of high stakes litigation. Tutorials such as this one are more the norm than the exception in most patent litigation.

Good lawyers are fast learners (5, Interesting)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755424)

Some years ago I read the final judgement in a high-tech lawsuit involving detailed understanding of the internal function of disk drives (at that time - technology had moved on). I was impressed with the level of understanding achieved by the judge in the case. The explanation of the facts of the case in the judgment amounted to a fairly good tutorial in the internals of disk drives.

In another case I knew about, the two parties jointly hired a third-part consultant to write a tutorial for the judge on the underlying technology - the parts that both parties agreed on.

I cannot obviously speak for the case in question, but my experience is that judges and trial lawyers (barristers in the UK) are pretty savvy people. The are basically trained to go from 0-60 on a new technology within a few weeks. They may not be able to be creative in the technology, but they know enough to know when they do not know enough and ask further questions.

Re:Good lawyers are fast learners (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755798)

Should you recall the cases in question, a reference would make for interesting educational material. (Even if the tech is a bit outdated, now)

Re:Good lawyers are fast learners (2)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755968)

The case I read the judgement on was Amstrad vs. Western Digital, and the reason I had the judgement was that one of the lawyers working for my company had worked for Amstrad, who won the case.

As I recall WD sold discs to Amstrad, and also wanted to sell disc interfaces. But Amstrad decided that they could design and build their own interfaces cheaper. WD didn't bother (and the judge decided this was intentional) to tell Amstrad that the discs needed to do an end-to-end seek every few minutes to relieve thermal strains in the arm positioning system. As a result, Amstrad PCs using the discs corrupted data and the resulting bad reputation effectively ruined Amstrad's business. WD claimed the discs were good, and it was Amstrad's fault for designing a faulty controller. Amstrad said that WD had not given the information necessary to make the controller good. The judge found for Amstrad - but this needed a lot of information as to exactly why that particular type of disk needed the regular seek, known as a "show-shine", and a decision as to what duty the seller of goods had to tell the buyer how to use them. I found the judgement clear and convincing, and was sure that the judge fully understood the technical details involved. He was also /very/ caustic about one of the alleged expert witnesses.

The other case, where there was an agreed tutorial for the judge, was Quantel vs Adobe,

Re:Good lawyers are fast learners (2)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 3 years ago | (#35756056)

Would this [findlaw.com] be the case in question re Amstrad v Western Digital? Also, the WP article on Amstrad [wikipedia.org] talks about them suing Seagate, which sounds like it might stand correction.

Re:Good lawyers are fast learners (2)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35756160)

This looks like a spin-off squabble between lawyers relating to the case. As far as I can see, his relates to lawyers and expert witnesses in a dropped US suit. The judgement I read was in a British court, which I can well imagine as being found to be the appropriate jurisdiction.

I'll check Wikipedia.and fix if needed.

Re:Good lawyers are fast learners (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755828)

Good $(insert_profession) are always great fast learners.

Re:Good lawyers are fast learners (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755902)

That would be the sweet point: teach him to ask (the right) questions to the experts.

While many here pretend to be lawyers.... (5, Insightful)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755498)

...he doesn't pretend to be a developer.

Awesome Judge!

Re:While many here pretend to be lawyers.... (1)

Confusador (1783468) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755536)

I had to see this after I'd already commented, didn't I. I've even got mod points and everything!

Re:While many here pretend to be lawyers.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755848)

The judge:

"IANAD, but..."

I know why Java was invented... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755732)

It's because the word bloat needed a new meaning.

OK, OK, I go back to my IntelliJ IDEA do some Java coding (text editor's 'margin' set to 120 columns),

    DoNotGetMeWrongILoveJava

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