Google pans Oracle damages argument: Java was fragmented well before Android

Summary:Google has filed its response to Oracle's damages claim and as expected the filing rips apart the arguments of an expert witness. One of the more notable items in the filing is the issue of when Java was fragmented.

Google has filed its response to Oracle's damages claim and as expected the filing rips apart the arguments of an expert witness. One of the more notable items in the filing is the issue of when Java was fragmented.

Oracle wants a hefty damages for what the company alleges is Android's patent and copyright infringement on Java. Florian Mueller estimates that Oracle is seeking at least $1 billion or so from Google. That figure---given the Nokia and Apple settlement on Tuesday---seems plausible.

In its response to Oracle expert witness Iain Cockburn, Google argued that Oracle is after ad revenue related to Android devices. Google, however, said that the lawsuit should revolve around the Android software, which happens to be free.

Google said that its advertising business isn't the "accused product" and should be left out of damages calculations, that lost profits shouldn't inflate royalties and damages from Java fragmentation are related to a "wholly different Oracle product" that is not in the complaint.

One key item in Google's response is Cockburn's premise that Android fragmented Java, a technology Oracle acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems. Google said:

Cockburn’s major premise, that Sun vigorously fought Java fragmentation, is false. As discussed below, Sun promoted fragmentation through its own licensing program...In particular, JavaME—the subset of Java at issue here—was fragmented for several years before Android had even been conceived

Cockburn also wrongly assumes that an “incompatible Android implementation . . . fragments and undermines not only Oracle’s Java licensing business but also the value of Java as a whole.” Treating “Java” as one overarching technology for purposes of fragmentation is contrary to reality and would make no sense. JavaME is just one of several branches of the overall Java platform. Most of Java encompasses implementations for desktop, servers, or enterprise systems. Even if Android fragmented JavaME, it would have no effect on desktop- or server-based implementations of Java.

If you take Google's argument farther the gist of it is that Oracle wants to monetize Java now, but Sun's fragmentation policy led to weak licensing in the first place. The question for Oracle is the same one that haunted Sun for years: Can Java be monetized?

Fortunately, this Oracle vs. Google lawsuit may go a pretty long way to determining whether Java can be monetized. If Oracle rakes in $1 billion or so from Google and then gets a cut of future Android devices, the monetization question will be clear.

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Related: Oracle wants big cut of Android damages as Google's IP headache gets worse

Topics: Android, Google, Open Source, Oracle, Software Development

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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