Oracle recently sued Google for patent and copyright infringement. The full text of the complaint is available here. I agree with Miguel De Icaza in that this will most likely result in a settlement out of court.
Sun’s weaker position, and its alliance with the Open Source community, did not allow it to sue Google for patent infringement. This is all covered in depth in this CNET article. Given Sun’s massive patent portfolio, and Oracle’s need to monetize their acquisition, the lawsuit is not surprising.
Oracle’s behavior seems troll-like. It is also seems unabashedly capitalist. Big companies that act like trolls have a tendency to be countersued. Chances are, others can find a patent or two that the bigger company has run afoul of. The question is, why is a large company like Oracle going after a large company like Google, besides the money? Oracle has much to lose in this case. In addition, it is not clear that they have all that much to gain either.
As Eben Moglen pointed out at his recent Linuxcon keynote “The patent system is built for secrecy and for trouble-making — it’s not a pro-innovation system.” Patent trolls and those that sue for patent infringement usually are not creating any value. This is a reason that the Open Source community, people who create value for the common good, finds this behavior so reprehensible.
A lot of enterprise software companies are sitting on a lot of cash. Investment opportunities are not good as a few years ago. Consequently, for companies that have not donated their patents to cross-licensing organizations (such as OIN), it makes sense to extract as much value as possible out of their patent portfolio. Also, it has the benefit of helping companies to build out their cash stockpiles, suppress competition and stifle innovation.