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Myriad Sues Sun, Now Oracle, over Java

Pinch-Hitting for Google?

The Swiss-based Myriad Group AG last Friday sued Oracle America, which is what they call Sun Microsystems nowadays, in federal court in Delaware over Java HotSpot licensing.

Conspiracy theorists might suspect that Myriad is a stand-in for Google.

After all, Oracle is suing Google over Java and its use of the Dalvik virtual machine in Android; HotSpot is the primary Java virtual machine for desktops and servers; and Myriad is a founding member of the Android-pushing Google-started Open Handset Alliance with its own Dalvik VM.

Anyway, Myriad's 20-page suit charges Oracle with breach of contract, unfair competition, violations of the Lanham Act and the California Business and Professions Code, and tortious interference.

It wants punitive damages, plus the $120 million it and its customers paid in license fees, and the obligatory injunction. It also wants the court to enforce all of Sun's licenses.

It's standing on the Java Specification Participation Agreement (JSPA) that Sun signed with Myriad and everybody else in the Java Community Process (JCP) to develop Java Specification Requests (JSRs) for applications written in Java. In return they were supposed to get perpetual IP rights to Java, either royalty-free or on terms that were fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND).

Myriad claims that never happened and that Sun "consistently failed to honor those licenses."

It says it never used HotSpot code but Sun, alleging it did, made it sign Sun Community Source Licenses (SCSLs) and Commercial Use Licenses for HotSpot and pay for reference implementations and TCK access Sun had no business charging for. Moreover, many of Sun's HotSpot implementations supposedly use Myriad code cross-licensed to Sun.

The Swiss company claims that Sun told Myriad customers Myriad wasn't licensed to sell Java or Java-compliant products, pushed Sun widgetry on them, claimed Myriad was selling Sun code which made it more expensive, charged them "exorbitant royalties," prohibited Myriad from selling rival products to certain customers and terminated its access to the TK web site.

Sun also allegedly charged Myriad royalties that were higher than the downstream price Sun charged for HotSpot and undercut the royalties Myriad was forced to pay with Myriad customers like Cyberlink and Alticast. It allegedly told Broadcom its Myriad VM-based Blu-Ray player software doesn't pass muster with the Blu-Ray Disc Association.

Myriad, which claims it never got a FRAND price schedule from Sun, says it has paid Sun $20 million in periodic and per-unit royalties since 2004 and its customers have paid over $100 million. It says it's lost Sharp, Pioneer, Vividlogic and Mitsubishi as customers - not to mention market share, image and past, present and future profits - to Sun's actions.

Bloomberg broke the story.


More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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