After years of saying "no way!", Sun announced today that Java will be released under the GPL2 license, effectively becoming open source.
Way back in 1997, Sun successfully lobbied the International Standards Organization (ISO) to make Java a standard. Unlike most other standards though, Sun worked to make sure that they were the only entity that could contribute to the standard. I'm no ISO expert, but I don't know of any other standards approved by this body that were one-company shows.
From the News.com link above:
Giving a single company submitter status is unusual for ISO. Normally. such status is given to trade groups or consortia.
This "single owner" of an ISO standard hurt Java in a lot of ways. I have no doubt that the language would have moved forward much quicker and become more widely used if Sun had released the source years ago instead of fighting.
As Tim Bray points out today - "it's water under the bridge, forget it!"