I remember a patent lawyer telling me that unlike most crime, there are no morality issues in patent law to grapple with. A more interesting question is does the legal system make people such dbags and how can it be changed to make dbags into nice people?
On the other hand, "patent lawyer" most likely refers to a "patent prosecutor," which is a lawyer whose job is to apply for patents through the USPTO. There's probably not a lot of morality involved in prosecuting patents, other than how fully, comprehensively, or artfully you disclose prior art.
On behalf of trolls everywhere, I am outraged!
I followed the little backgrounder about Judge Alsup and the Oracle vs Google lawsuit (say whut? the judge codes?) thru to the original TechDirt link, and I offer this off-topic bit:
How did I miss the sale of Sun Microsystems (and, therefore, Java) to Oracle back in 2009?
Um, okay, in attempt to make this more on topic: All hail judges such as these whose personal experience in tech matters allows them to better judge cases. No doubt judges have major bullshit detectors for items that come before the court. Since this is a highly amusing procedural sidebar in a software patent troll matter, I also wonder how much Alsup's programming experience colors his perspectives on software patents in general?
According to a leaked cable, the US pressured the EU to support the Sun acquisition, incongruously and incorrectly arguing it would help open source software: http://www.dailytech.com/US%20Pressured%20EU%20to%20Approve%20the%20Oracles%20Acquisition%20of%20Sun/article22581.htm
In reality, it's been a pain for software developers and the Linux community. Sun was an okay community member and Oracle hasn't been in the slightest, resulting in the forking of many projects (OpenOffice -> LibreOffice, Hudson -> Jenkins, MySql -> MariaDB) and decreased cooperation on others.
Thud. (my reaction to the cable. oy) The things you describe do not surprise me. Oracle and Open Source may both begin with the letter O, but the similarity ends there. I'm no expert on Oracle (far from it), but open source doesn't seem to be consistent with Oracle's DNA.
Since I wrote that initial comment, I went and read (a good deal of) the legal ruling in the Oracle vs Google case.
The intro is basically a tutorial on java and programming languages and APIs in general. Amazingly lucid. I'm a technology generalist of the digital imaging, design, tech writing, explanation, web development and code copy-er and paste-er variety, but I stop at seriously writing code from scratch. (in the pick your battles, I gave up there.) This means that I've passing familiarity with code, but some foundational principles that real coders know at the assumption level pass me by completely. For a person with my level of understanding, the Judge's stuff was spot-on brilliant.
Anyway, skipped the middle part of the ruling (case history of software and copyright), then read the final section for the decision.
The trial -- and the merits (or lack) thereof get at the difference between copyright and patents. (hi. Patents, again, for this off-topic diversion about Oracle/Google, I'm trying to get back on topic.) Insightful stuff. Patents last for 20 years, copyright protections (now) last for 95 years.
From p 35 of the finding,
Based on a single implementation, Oracle would bypass this entire patent scheme and claim ownership over any and all ways to carry out methods for 95 years — without any vetting by the Copyright Office of the type required for patents.
Put that way, Oracle's complaint is pretty damn brazen.
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