Oracle: Google copied Java code in Android

The company has added to the lawsuit it filed in August claiming that the Google Android OS uses lines of code that are a direct copy of those found in Sun Java API packages
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor on

Oracle has updated its recently filed Google Java lawsuit to include allegations that the search giant directly copied its code in its implementation of Android.

The update, filed on Thursday, adds to the original lawsuit filed in August alleging that Google's Android OS infringed on several of Oracle's Java-related copyrights and patents — acquired when the company purchased Sun in a $7.4bn (£4.6bn) deal announced in April 2009.

The new filing alleges that in reproducing and distributing Android — including Google's active promotion of the open-source platform to developers — the software infringes on class libraries and documentation owned by Oracle.

"Approximately one third of Android's application [programming] interface (API) packages are derivative of Oracle America's copyrighted Java API packages and corresponding documents," reads part of the filing. "The infringed elements of Oracle America's copyrighted work include Java method and class names, definitions, organisation and parameters; the structure, organisation and content of Java class libraries; and the content and organisation of Java's documentation.

"In at least several instances, Android computer program code also was directly copied from copyrighted Oracle America code," Oracle said. The filing also reiterated Oracle's demands for compensation for the alleged infringements that have led to "monetary loss to its business, reputation and goodwill".

"We are disappointed Oracle has chosen to attack both Google and the open-source Java community with this baseless lawsuit. The open-source Java community goes beyond any one corporation and works every day to make the web a better place. We will strongly defend open-source standards and will continue to work with the industry to develop the Android platform," a Google spokesperson said in a statement on Thursday.

The original dispute centres on seven patents related to the Android software stack's software development kit (SDK) and Dalvik virtual machine (VM). However, Google struck back at the suit claiming that it had not infringed on any Oracle patents mentioned in the case as they are invalid and unenforceable.

Previously, Google requested that all claims be barred on the basis that they were made with "unclean hands" — in other words, that Oracle was acting in bad faith. This was a reference to Oracle's refusal to open up the platform once it had acquired it from Sun — a situation that Oracle had actually been pressing for before its purchase of the company.

"Directly contrary to Oracle Corp's public actions and statements, as well as its own proposals as an executive member of the [Java Community Process], Oracle Corp and Sun (now Oracle America) have ignored the open-source community's requests to fully open-source the Java platform," Google's lawyers wrote in the counter-claim.

Gartner analyst Mark Driver sees the situation differently, suggesting that this could be the beginning of a deeper look into the future of open-source Java.

"You cannot simply code around patents. You have to remove the feature that is patented. In this case, killing the platform. So patents are the ultimate IP weapon. Say what you will about software patents good or bad. But Oracle has every right under law to enforce their IP and compel Google to license the technology," he wrote in a blog post on 13 August.

However, Driver also argues that the case is a lose/lose situation for Oracle: "If Oracle wins, it will send a strong message to the industry that Java isn't as open as was assumed. There is already an undercurrent of bleeding-edge developers that consider Java to be 'legacy' 20th-century technology. If it looks like Oracle is aggressively asserting its control over Java, then these discussion get really interesting. You think the JCP is dead today? You ain't seen nothing yet."

On the other hand, if Google wins, then other Java (JME) licensees will question why they are paying at all. "It will establish a precedent for independent versions of Java and effectively minimise if not downright nullify Oracle's stewardship of Java over the long term," Driver wrote.

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