There are lessons to be learned from the looming war between Google and Oracle. However, one lesson to take away as a developer is this:
Never Let Your Company File for Patents on Your Work
James Gosling is usually pretty cryptic in his non-technical writing, but I think if you read carefully, it seems to me that Gosling regrets that Oracle now holds his patents on Java. I know developers get nice bonuses if they let their company apply for patents on their work. I also know there’s pressure in most large companies to get more patents. We, as developers, must simply refuse this. We invent this stuff, not the suits and the lawyers who want to exploit our work for larger and larger profits. As a community of developers and computer scientists, we must simply refuse to ever let someone patent our work. In a phrase: just say no.
Even if you like your company today, you never know who will own those software patents later. I’m sure James Gosling originally never considered the idea that a company as revolting as Oracle would have control of everything he’s invented for the last two decades. But they do, and there’s nothing Gosling can do about what’s done with his work and “inventions”. Learn from this example; don’t let your company patent your work. Instead, publish online to establish prior art as quickly as possible.