Oracle vs. Google over Java: Android lawsuits may begin to pile up

Oracle vs. Google over Java: Android lawsuits may begin to pile up

Summary: Oracle's lawsuit against Google for Java patent infringement highlights how Android is going to become a big target in court.

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Oracle's lawsuit against Google for Java patent infringement highlights how Android is going to become a big target in court.

Take Oracle's lawsuit (statement), which alleges that Google developed Android and "directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle’s Java-related intellectual property," and couple it with Apple's court battle with HTC and it's clear the legal armies are amassing against Android. And why not? Android has pretty much been unstoppable and once something gets critical mass it only stands to reason that there will be a fine-tooth patent comb going through the mobile operating system's code.

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In it's complaint, embedded below via CNet News, Oracle outlines the following:

Google’s Android competes with Oracle America’s Java as an operating system software platform for cellular telephones and other mobile devices.  The Android operating system software “stack” consists of Java applications running on a Java-based object-oriented application framework, and core libraries running on a “Dalvik” virtual machine (VM) that features just-in-time (JIT) compilation.  Google actively distributes Android (including without limitation the Dalvik VM and the Android software development kit) and promotes its use by manufacturers of products and applications. Android (including without limitation the Dalvik VM and the Android software  development kit) and devices that operate Android infringe one or more claims of each of United States Patents Nos. 6,125,447; 6,192,476; 5,966,702; 7,426,720; RE38,104; 6,910,205; and 6,061,520.

Oracle goes on to say that Google knew of Sun's patents since 2005 or so and the search giant hired a bevy of Sun engineers.

There are a few key threads to note about Oracle's suit. When Oracle first bought Sun it seemed fairly obvious that Java played a big role. Today, Oracle's purchase of Sun is portrayed as a way to deliver integrated hardware-software systems. However, Oracle acquired Sun's vast intellectual property portfolio. With Java, Oracle has the language the underpins its enterprise applications and middleware---not to mention IBM's. It only stands to reason that Oracle would monetize Java via lawsuits and patents. In that regard, Oracle's Android suit makes perfect sense.

Christopher Dawson also highlights how Oracle wants a piece of the mobile pie.

There are serious financial incentives to file IP-related lawsuits. When a big fish sues a bigger fish over intellectual property rights that aren’t clearcut, there has to be a bigger picture, a corporate strategy that makes the financial and PR risks worth the potential gain. In this case, it’s mobile computing which, in case you haven’t noticed, is the future of both consumer and, in many ways, enterprise computing. Yeah, I’d say there’s an incentive here.

However, if you zoom out a bit you see where this is headed. Apple's HTC lawsuit has a heavy dose of Android in it. Oracle is suing Google over the Java in Android. In journalism, there's a saying that three makes a trend. Rest assured there will be another patent suit lobbed at Android from various parties. Android is on a tear, but Google may wind up licensing some patents along the way.

What will happen with Oracle and Google? For starters, Oracle can play the courtroom game well---see Oracle vs. SAP/TomorrowNow for instance. Google could fight, but it may be far more expedient to just license the patents. Notice how quickly the Microsoft-Salesforce.com patent scrum was settled even though Marc Benioff called the software giant a thug. Assuming Oracle's points are valid, Google may just pay up and move along.

Cowen analyst Peter Goldmacher noted that Oracle and Google are likely to reach an agreement. He said in a research note:

We are surprised that Oracle and Google couldn't reach a deal on what appears to be a straightforward licensing agreement. We believe Oracle is justified in defending its patent portfolio but suspect that its negotiating tactics were more aggressive than Google cared for. While the names involved in the lawsuit are high profile, we suspect the amount of money at risk for either side, win or lose, is immaterial. We are not inclined to make this seemingly minor patent dispute a bigger issue.

Oracle's complaint against Google for Java patent infringement

Topics: Android, Smartphones, Oracle, Open Source, Mobility, Mobile OS, Legal, Hardware, Google, Software Development

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  • Hard to Believe

    I think that Oracle will end up destroying Java through these lawsuits. Nothing is irreplaceable. It has happened before. Conversely, Oracle knew what Google was doing and waited until the monetary stakes were high enough to cash in. They are just being a patent thug.
    M.M.Grimes
    • RE: Oracle vs. Google over Java: Android lawsuits may begin to pile up

      @wgrimes <br><br>I have read a few articles that Sun Microsystems was already considering action against Google before Oracle bought them. Besides, look at it from Oracle's point of view. Oracle could make a lot of money IF they are correct, so the harassment/litigation costs may be worth the risks because Java is not a huge profit center for them and this might be their only chance to try.
      DonRupertBitByte
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  • Questions I would like answered

    Is it not the case that Sun promoted their Java technology as free and open to all developers?

    Is it not a fact that it is those very assurances that are responsible for millions of developers (including, but not limited to Oracle) committing their business to the Java platform?

    Can a company (Sun/Oracle) really get away with selling a technology as free and open to all, then turn around and sue developers that take them at their word?
    JohnVoter
  • Same question, with correction

    Is it not the case that Sun promoted their Java technology as free and open to all developers?

    Is it not a fact that it is those very assurances that are responsible for millions of developers (including, but not limited to ***Google***) committing their business to the Java platform?

    Can a company (Sun/Oracle) really get away with selling a technology as free and open to all, then turn around and sue developers that take them at their word?
    JohnVoter
    • RE: Oracle vs. Google over Java: Android lawsuits may begin to pile up

      @JohnVoter. Sun sued Microsoft over the very same issue: Microsoft was using their own code for their own Java Virtual Machine.

      Google is using their own code for "Dalvik" which works like a Java Virtual Machine.

      I imagine Google will be forced to use Java for Linux, as written by Sun/Oracle. Microsoft was never allowed to use their own code.
      kyron.gustafson@...
      • RE: Oracle vs. Google over Java: Android lawsuits may begin to pile up

        @kyron.gustafson@...
        Yes, I remember that. MS was basically forced to remove MVM from Windows. IMO I thought it was faster and less buggy than Sun Java but I think it was 1 of those antitrust suits or something dealing with how MS includes their products with the operating system (if memory serves correctly).

        Figures Oracle is pulling this at about the same time Apple is crawling up HTC's backside. Almost makes my conspiracy side wonder what kind of back room talks are going on between Oracle and Apple, since I'm sure Apple is sweating the momentum Android is gaining.
        waterhzrd
      • RE: Oracle vs. Google over Java: Android lawsuits may begin to pile up

        @kyron.gustafson@... & Kyron.<br><br><a href="http://lmgtfy.com/?q=java+virtual+machine+made+by+intel+withheld+by+microsoft" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://lmgtfy.com/?q=java+virtual+machine+made+by+intel+withheld+by+microsoft" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://lmgtfy.com/?q=java+virtual+machine+made+by+intel+withheld+by+microsoft</a></a><br><br>Virtually Every Chip manufacturer (HP, DEC, etc) had a JVM that was based on the SUN Java Reference implementation. While it was SUN Java compatible, it ran fast on their chips. Contrast that to what Microsoft did, and that was to break with the platform agnostic goal of Java. AND, they prevented Intel from creating a SUN Java compatible JVM that would run fast on their chips.<br><br>Lesson Learned: You can't make an incompatible Java JVM. Cross-platform is the goal of Java and to create a platform-specific version of it as Google has is exactly the same thing that Microsoft did. Oracle is protecting the 'platform' of Java here.
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  • Boy you don't get it.

    Orcale depends on Java improving for there internal usage.

    Having android fork off in a way people don't have to return alteration where Orcale can use them is a bad thing.

    Orcale is not asking for money or a settlement. Read the court documents. They are asking for complete destruction of offending code. That is not a request you put up when you are after cash.
    oiaohm
    • "That is not a request you put up when you are after cash."

      Are you sure about that? I'd never put a shady backroom deal past Larry. If removing what Oracle is deeeming "offending code" would cause irreparable harm to Android, well...there are some companies who would benefit greatly from that. A little quid pro quo goes a long way in Ellison's world. I've never known him to make any business decision that involved laying out money (in this case, money on a lawsuit) without expecting a heavy ROI in return.
      jasonp@...
      • RE: Oracle vs. Google over Java: Android lawsuits may begin to pile up

        @jasonp@...
        "well...there are some companies who would benefit greatly from that"

        I agree, and I'd put Apple at the top of that list...
        waterhzrd