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Oracle v Google Copyright Trial in Progress

July 22, 2016

The battle between Google and Oracle over Android’s use of Java has gone to federal court, and the trial is expected to conclude in June. CBS San Francisco Bay Area reports, “Former Google CEO Testifies in Oracle-Google Copyright Trial.” The brief write-up reveals the very simple defense of Eric Schmidt, who was Google’s CEO while Android was being developed (and is now CEO of Google’s young parent company, Alphabet): “We believed our approach was appropriate and permitted,” he stated.

Java was developed back in the ‘90s by Sun Microsystems, which was bought by Oracle in 2010. Google freely admits using Java in the development of Android, but they assert it counts as fair use—the legal doctrine that allows limited use of copyrighted material if it is sufficiently transformed or repurposed. Oracle disagrees, though Schmidt maintains Sun Microsystems saw it his way back in the day. The article tells us:

“Schmidt told the jury that when Google was developing Android nine years ago, he didn’t believe the company needed a license from Sun for the APIs. “We believed our approach was appropriate and permitted,” he said.

“Under questioning from Google attorney Robert Van Nest, Schmidt said that in 2007, Sun’s chief executive officer Jonathan Schwartz knew Google was building Android with Java, never expressed disapproval and never said Google needed a license from Sun.

“In cross-examination by Oracle attorney Peter Bicks, Schmidt acknowledged that he had said in 2007 that Google was under pressure to compete with the Apple Inc.’s newly released iPhone.”

Yes it was, the kind of pressure that can erode objectivity. Did Google go beyond fair use in this case? The federal court will soon decide.



Cynthia Murrell, July 22, 2016

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Google and EC: The Exclusives May Be a Problem Like Death

July 20, 2016

I read “European Trustbusters Torpedo Google.” The write up focused my attention on Google exclusives. The point is that Google allegedly used exclusive constraints to keep its alleged monopoly chugging along. I highlighted several statements in the write up; for example:

in these agreements with Direct Partners, Google has breached EU antitrust rules by imposing the following conditions:

  • Exclusivity: requiring third parties not to source search ads from Google’s competitors.
  • Premium placement of a minimum number of Google search ads: requiring third parties to take a minimum number of search ads from Google and reserve the most prominent space on their search results pages to Google search ads. In addition, competing search ads cannot be placed above or next to Google search ads.
  • Right to authorize competing ads: requiring third parties to obtain Google’s approval before making any change to the display of competing search ads.

The write up contains other zingers; to wit:

  1. “But twin conjoined monopolies AdSense and search create barriers to competition.” Ah,conjoined.
  2. “Trustbusters in Europe, and also the United States, look enormously unfavorably at monopolies that engage in exclusive agreements, whether implicit or implied, that protect market dominance—or expand it.” Exclusives, goodness.

Alphabet Google has, according to the write up, 10 weeks to get back to the EU. Will the dog eat Google’s homework again? Google is working to solve the problem of death? Will Google find a solution to the death and taxes challenges? Trivial, right?

Stephen E Arnold, July 20, 2016

Palantir Causes Army to Slam on the DCGS Anti Skid Brakes

July 19, 2016

My hunch is that there are some unhappy campers in the US Army’s DCGS program. Hey, delays interrupt the billing cycles for affected vendors. Based on my experience with some of DC’s biggest defense contractors, billing is often Job One for some folks. It may also be Jobs Two and Three as well. The work does come along, however.

Why mash the brake peddle in the US Army’s One:1?

Navigate to “Army Will Hold Off on DCGS-A Award as Palantir Lawsuit Plays Out.” The write up states:

Palantir Technologies filed a lawsuit with the court on June 30 against the Army for issuing what it says is an unlawful procurement solicitation for the service’s Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) that presumably shuts the company’s commercial offering — the Gotham platform — out of the competition. Palo-Alto, California-based Palantir argues that the lawsuit was necessary because the Army should be stopped from moving forward on an unlawful and risk-prone software development project that would reinvent the wheel at a very high price. The Silicon Valley company has also filed a motion for permanent injunction to prevent the Army from moving forward with its DCGS-A program until the court has made a ruling on the case.

The June 30, 2016, complaint is sealed. This means that an outsider in Harrod’s Creek cannot read the document. From the information finding its way to my hollow in the Bluegrass State, Palantir perceives that the US Army behaved in an irrational manner. Okay. I heard that Palantir interprets the procurement guidelines and rules one way. The US Army sees procurement procedures in a different way. Palantir may be wearing Zenni optical eye glasses, and the US Army DCGS team the nifty ATN PVS7-3P goggles.

I am looking forward to the legal dust up; that is, if the information becomes available. Based on Palantir’s hassles with IBM i2, the information was sealed just like the June 30, 2016 complaint against the US Army. Without information, it is difficult to know what’s what.

My experience suggests that the DCGS award is important because it involves a couple of hundred million dollars. Also, the project is a multi year thing. That means that the vendor who can get his or her teeth into the prime contract can gnaw for years. The $200 million is just one slice of the cash cow.

Another thing is I surmise, although you, gentle reader, may not agree. Litigation against the US government often makes it difficult for some of those involved to have an incentive to “friend” some folks and get into a constructive social relationship. There is nothing like the lingering stench of a burnt bridge to spoil dynamite chicken at a green bean.

For the individuals who need a functioning multi source intelligence system, you will have to become more creative. The Harrod’s Creek approach might work. With no information germane to a topic, one can rely on gossip, Web articles, or guesses.

Stephen E Arnold, July 19, 2016

The Dog Ate My Homework: The Google Approach

July 18, 2016

i read “Google Given Extra Six Weeks to Sort Its Act Out in EU Android Antitrust Probe.” When I was in college, I was annoyed when students missed the professor’s deadline. My approach was to manage my time within the boundaries set by the person who was “teaching” me. I taught (believe it or not) for a short time while I was working on my PhD in some obscure subject area related to medieval poetry and heard some interesting excuses from deadline misses; for example:

  • The dog tore up my report.
  • My mother was robbed.
  • It was raining and I did not want my homework to get wet.

Wonderful and somewhat entertaining.

The Google variation, according to the write up:

“Google asked for additional time to review the documents in the case file.”

Ah, slow readers challenged by time management.

Several questions flashed through my mind:

  • Will Google ask for additional delays, biding its time until the EU implodes?
  • Will Google show up and then have its legal eagles engages in swoops and dives to divert the legal air flows?
  • Will Google just continue along its path knowing that everyone in the EU uses Google services so the legal dust up is Sturm und Drang with some political laser lights flashing?

Worth watching.

Stephen E Arnold, July 18, 2016

Short Honk: From the Luxury Bus to the Street View Auto

July 15, 2016

I am not sure what to make of this story: “Google Cars Attacked by Molotov Cocktails.” At first, I thought Boston Dynamics’ robots had revolted or a person associated with the EU took action. I have a copy of a pundit’s analysis of the Sillycon Valley microcosm in a larger financial superstructure. The book’s title is “Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus.” The shift from luxury bus to Lexus is interesting.

I learned:

A man has federal arson charges as he was accused of attacking the Google Street View vehicles and also other cars that are associated with Google.

I noted this passage:

He [the alleged perpetrator] also told the officers the reason behind these attacks was that he felt that the Google was watching him so it made him upset. He said that he kept the journals of the times as he felt that the company had been watching him.

I don’t know if the journal was online or paper based.

Stephen E Arnold, July 15, 2016

Google-Oracle: Allegations of Lawyer Leaking Secret Info

July 12, 2016

I was looking for a single document filed on June 30, 2016. I did my looking only to find that the document had been sealed. There you go. Kentucky oaf aced by legal eagles.

I was interested to read “Google vs Oracle Post-Script: The Price for Revealing Sensitive Financial Information.” The write up alerted me that allegedly one legal eagle let some info leak into the public information stream. I was astounded. I was thwarted only to learn that legal eagles can release information to anyone.

The focus of the write up is a attorney for Oracle, who allegedly made secret information available during the legal dust up9 between Google and Oracle. I must confess that I am not able to figure out who did what to whom in this Java API matter, but the leaking of info caught my attention.

According to the write up:

You may recall a couple of months ago it became public knowledge that Google paid Apple $1 billion dollars to have Google search on the iPhone. The figure apparently represents a 34% slice of the revenue Google makes from searches originating on iPhones. Or it did, “at one point in time”, according to Oracle’s lawyer Annette Hurst. Hurst also revealed that Android had made $31 billion in revenue and $22 billion in profit for Google. At the time Google objected that the figures were not public knowledge.

Okay. The article then reported:

Bloomberg published two stories on the transcript’s contents back in January. Two hours after the story went live the transcript disappeared from electronic court records. Google had apparently petitioned the judge overseeing the case to have the transcript removed from public access as soon as it was published, but Bloomberg’s story let the cat out of the bag.

Now that’s more like it. Just like the document I sought, the info disappeared. Magic.

So what? Google, according to the write up, has the green light to seek “sanctions.” I am familiar with sanction with extreme prejudice, but I am not sure if this is the legal eagle definition of the phrase.

I have several thoughts:

  1. I think that the Alphabet Google thing probably will have a desire to tackle Oracle and its law firm. Moon shots, solving death, and using legal tactics to keep Oracle on its toes seem to be possible. Well, maybe not solving death, but, hey, Alphabet Google is a sharp outfit.
  2. HP must be looking at this legal matter and thinking, “Will our pursuit of Autonomy have a similarly happy ending?”
  3. Oracle may be thinking about its relationship with the firm allegedly involved in the info spill. The write up identifies the lawyer as Annette Hurst. Ars Technica attaches her entity to an outfit called Orrick, Sutcliffe & Herrington.

Interesting. Perhaps the moral of the story is that information should be tightly controlled. Secrecy may be a valid business model. I can’t read a document filed on June 30, 2016, and information disclosed in a trial is like a problem.

Is the answer a Star Chamber type approach? Perhaps there are secret courts. No wonder I could not locate my document which was sealed more quickly than my dear, late mother put a slice of cheese in a plastic baggie.

Stephen E Arnold, July 12, 2016

Palantir and the US Army: Procurement Thrills

July 6, 2016

I read “Palantir Takes Fight with Army to Federal Court.” The write up is quite useful because the reporter Jen Judson was able to glean some information from a document related to the Palantir versus US Army matter. When I looked for the document, it seemed to me that the complaint had been sealed. I learned from the article:

Palantir is arguing the way the Army wrote its requirements in a request for proposals to industry would shut out Silicon Valley companies that provide commercially available products. The company contended that the Army’s plan to award just one contract to a lead systems integrator means commercially available solutions would have to be excluded.

The Defense News story included some interesting factoids. Here are three I noted:

  • Palantir perceives the US Army acting in what is described as an “irrational” way.
  • The program for a database, analytics, and visualization tools has consumed billions of dollars and is a development project, not a commercial off the shelf deal.
  • Some Army personnel requested Palantir’s software and found the request denied.

Let’s assume that the Army is trying to build a solution which delivers what Palantir Gotham offers as ready-to-roll system listed on the GSA schedule like photocopying machines.

The questions that rose from my addled goose brain were:

  1. Why is the Army reluctant to use commercial-off-the-shelf software? My narrow experience with government procurement suggests that there is some other factor or factors making the coding of a system from ground zero or cranking out scripts to hook existing systems together more attractive than buying something that pretty much works.
  2. Why is Palantir unable to play procurement ball with the other major defense contracting companies? Is there a trust issue in play? Palantir was caught in a sticky wicket with i2 Group over the Analyst’s Notebook file format. As a former adviser to i2 before it became part of IBM, I know that the file format was a bit of information Mike Hunter and his colleagues treated as a close hold.
  3. What issues do the major vendors involved in the Army’s program have with Palantir’s business methods? Most government centric vendors generally get along and take a live-and-let-live approach to big projects. If vendors are not willing to play in the same sandbox, some bad vibes exist for some reason.

Unfortunately I don’t have answers to these questions. My view is that tackling the US Army and procurement methods is likely to cause some consternation for folks involved in the statement of work, the procurement, and the legal machinations.

Plus, the procurement guidelines and the actual procurement processes are often complex and somewhat flexible. As a result, when a commercial company lets the legal eagles fly, the US government has some wiggle room.

Finally, this Palantir versus the Army strikes me as a reprise of Google’s grousing about its not winning the search project for the original version of Big Silicon Valley companies make assumptions. For example, Google tossed around the term rational and the word logical as I recall. The problem is that trust, fear, and revenue may not fit into a Venn diagram or a numerical recipe.

Will Silicon Valley triumph over the so called Beltway Bandits? Will Silicon Valley rationality emerge victorious in the joust with the Army? Stay tuned for the outcome unless the resolution is sealed just like the ANB file format once was.

Stephen E Arnold, July 6, 2016

The EU Google Dust Up: The Ad Business

July 3, 2016

I read “EU turns to Google’s Ad Business in Antitrust Probe.” Poor Alphabet Google. The company wants to focus, change transportation, and reduce costs by embracing smart software. The nitpickers in the EU continue to find fault with one of Sillycon Valley’s most cherished institutions. The problem this time appears to be advertising.

The write up reports (after one participates in a somewhat silly survey before displaying the write up):

Google is set to be hit with a third set of antitrust charges by the European Union – this time against its advertising business.

What’s the regulated beef? I learned:

investigators are taking steps to formalize their accusations by asking companies to remove confidential material from evidence that supports claims Google abuses its dominance in online advertising. If found guilty of breaking EU competition law, Google could face a maximum fine of 10% of its annual revenue per infringement.

Alphabet Google, despite the company’s best efforts over the last decade or so, generates about 90 percent of its $70 billion in revenue from advertising. A fine would certainly be an interesting number when converted to the super currency, the euro.

My thought is that the Alphabet Google outfit is misunderstood. Advertising depends on people who want to use a free online search system. The advertisers pay the Alphabet Google thing to put messages in front of users. Europe tried and failed to create a Google killer. The Qwant service is chugging along but with less and less spring in its step. The Exalead system, believe it or not, is online, but does not seem to be too popular here in rural Kentucky.

I almost feel sorry for the EU. Alphabet Google should be okay, but if the company finds itself having to pay out billions to keep regulators happy, there will be less fun in the Googleplex.

Stephen E Arnold, July 3, 2016

Alphabet Google and Its EU Strategy

June 29, 2016

Short honk: Read the original article “Eric Schmidt Gave Us a Glimpse of the Strategy He’s Using to Persuade the EU to Not Declare Google a Monopoly.”

Here’s the quote to note which I circled in true blue:

“Our strategy, and my personal strategy, is to get to know the regulators very, very well.” Schmidt [Alphabet Google big dog] does that, he said, because “people don’t know how we work.”

Right. No one really knows how Alphabet Google works. Perhaps one might ask someone disenchanted with Mother Google. Perhaps a person at Foundem has some thoughts.

To know the Alphabet Google thing is to love the Alphabet Google thing. Knowledge makes the monopoly idea fade it seems.

Stephen E Arnold, June 29, 2016

Palantir Technologies: Now Beer Pong and Human Augmented Intelligence?

June 23, 2016

I went months, nay years, without reading very much about Palantir Technologies. Now the unicorn seems to be prancing through my newsfeeds frequently. I read “Palantir’s Party Culture: Beer Pong, Office Pranks, and a Bad Case of the Hives.” The focus is less on how Gotham works and the nifty data management system the firm has engineered and more upon revelations about life inside a stealthy vendor of search and content processing systems.

The write up uses what appears to be company emails  and letters from attorneys as sources of information. I thought that emails were the type of information not widely available. Lawyer letters? Hmm. Guess not. A former Hobbit (allegedly the Palantirians’ names for themselves in the Shire) has revealed information about a matter involving a terminated employee.

The Sillycon Valley company allegedly has or had employees who horsed around. I find this difficult to believe. Fun at work? Wow. The aggrieved individual alleges he was injured by a “drunk coworker” who was playing beer pong. And the individual with a beef allegedly had “snacks” taken from his work space. (I thought Palantir-type outfits provided food for the Hobbit-like individuals.)

The write up contains this statement:

The letter [from a legal eagle?] also makes the surprising allegation that Palantir engaged in improper business practices by using both Bloomberg data feeds and software from an IT firm called ANB without the appropriate licenses. Neither Palantir, Bloomberg, nor ANB responded to requests for comment. In the July 2010 letter, Cohen’s attorney states that his client was retaliated against for speaking out about these practices. From the letter:

Mr Cohen was retaliated against for…complaining about issues such as Palantir’s illegal use of third party copyrighted and trademarked icons and Bloomberg data feeds without adequate licenses. In addition, Mr. Cohen was retaliated against for complaining about the illegal use of open source code without crediting authors, and the illegal use of ANB software development kit without ANB’s authorization.

Yikes. From beer pong and missing snacks to the allegation of “improper business practices.”  Who knew this was possible?

Please, note that the statements in the write up about “ANB” probably refer to IBM i2’s proprietary file structures for the Analyst’s Notebook product. (I dug in that outfit’s garden for a while.) What other errors lurk within these write ups about disenchanted Hobbits?

Several questions occurred to me:

  1. Is Palantir’s email system insecure? Have there been other caches of company email let loose from the Shire?
  2. Are these emails publicly available? Will those with access to the emails gather them and post them on a pastesite?
  3. What is the relationship between the IBM i2 proprietary file format and the Gotham system? (Wasn’t there a legal dust up with regard to i2’s proprietary technology?)
  4. How do commercial database content feeds find their way into systems not licensed for such access?

I find it interesting how a company which purports to maintain a low profile captures the attention of “real” journalists who have access to emails and legal letters.

I noted a couple of factoids too:

Key factoid one: Beer pong can be dangerous.

Key factoid two: People working in high tech outfits may want to check out their internal governance methods. Emails don’t walk; emails get sent or copied before, during, or after beer pong.

Stephen E Arnold, June 23, 2016

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