“Since August 2006, the ASF has been attempting to secure an acceptable license from Sun for the test kit for Java SE. This test kit, called the ‘Java Compatibility Kit’ or ‘JCK’, is needed by the Apache Harmony project to demonstrate its compatibility with the Java SE specification, as required by Sun’s specification license. The JCK license Sun is offering imposes IP rights restrictions through limits on the ‘field of use’ available to users of our software.
“These restrictions are totally unacceptable to us. As I explain below, these restrictions are contrary to the terms of the Java Specification Participation Agreement (JSPA) – the governing rules of the JCP – to which Sun is contractually bound to comply as a signatory.”
Interoperability in the software context — especially the free/libre/open source software context — so often turns on field of use and similar provisions in the relevant intellectual property licenses. Sun has been a huge supporter of the open source movement in many ways, so Mr. Schwartz certainly knows this. One wonders whether this decision, presuming Apache’s claims are true, to deny such a compatible license was a high-level policy decision or one that just hasn’t been run past the right person at Sun. We’ll find out, I suppose.