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Oracle sues Google over Java use in Android

updated 10:30 pm EDT, Thu August 12, 2010

Oracle could freeze Android in Google lawsuit

Oracle tonight sued Google for allegedly infringing on seven patents as well as copyrights relating to Java. The software pioneer claimed that Google had ignored Sun's patent portfolio since the middle of last decade and had even hired parts of Sun's Java team in the years before Oracle's buyout of Sun last year. The patent fringing was allegedly damaging as Android was competing directly with Java as a phone platform, whether for apps or the OS itself.

The suit calls for an unmentioned amount of damages and would also force Google to have any violating software "impounded and destroyed."

Google hasn't had an opportunity to review the lawsuit and offer its response. Whether Oracle can press its suit is also unclear; Sun open-sourced Java in 2006 and may have effectively passed on a valid license to Google by extension.

Such lawsuits seldom reach their final conclusion and are often meant as pressure tactics to obtain royalties or a one-time settlement payout. Google is unlikely to willingly risk the future of Android in a lawsuit. However, any truce with Oracle could lead to significantly increased costs for developing Android and could threaten its profitability.

Google chief Eric Schmidt has said that ad revenues from mobile searches already make Android profitable and has said it could recoup costs quickly with subscriptions, but without any licensing fees it doesn't make any revenue directly.

Java is frequently used in the mobile world, including in the BlackBerry platform and Qualcomm's BREW. One of the few to be immune is Apple, which doesn't use Java apps and rejects the use of such code in App Store titles. Google uses it heavily for apps and other components of Android.

- Jon Fingas

by MacNN Staff



  1. JuanGuapo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not good.

    Can't say how this is going to turn out but it can't be good if Oracle is going full guns against Google.

  1. rtamesis

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Another front opened in the Android Wars.

    Larry Ellison is doing his buddy Steve Jobs a big favor by launching this offensive against Google.

  1. mkex

    Joined: Dec 1969


    :-) Good

    Glad to see that - Googles tactics suck, and they seem to think they can just do anything.
    Finally a finger to google. They should stick to searches and maps and expand their business own ways instead of stepping on everyone elses toes. The become a bigger copycat than Macrosuck. :-)

  1. facebook_Mihai

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Aug 2010


    was about time..

    Android's model of running apps in a Java VM(even a highly optimized one) was the reason I didn't buy an Android device. Even with the NDK, apps are still not written natively, there are still parts written in Java, and we all know what kind of a resource hog Java is. It wastes a whole lot of cpu cycles, resulting in a much lower battery life. Damn, that's why they need so much memory and cpu speed in those devices. The G1 was horrible, it was barely usable because of this stupid idea of Google, to use java for apps. As long as they will use Java, Android will suck. Maybe Oracle is going to put this to an end.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Google gives Android away so what is

    Oracle beefing about? They should sue the smartphone vendors that charge people for using their devices. I'm sure Oracle can't win any suit against Google. All that patent stuff is way too vague. Android won't be touched because it's bigger than anything Oracle has.

  1. IxOsX

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Ah the Oracle!!!

    Oracle the company that does not have a complete Oracle standart client to work properly on OSX without some real twikling... Ok they have the instant client (super basic client), only good for developers, but not good for any database, or systems, or network administrators.

    I do not believe they have any fundamentals to complain about how google uses JAVA... They are just bulling for money or google favors. Nothing more!

  1. nat

    Joined: Dec 1969



    i don't know, oracle has... oracle. in the world of dbms, which pretty much runs the world of business and internet, oracle is the undisputed leader.

  1. coffeetime

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It's time....

    It's time for Google to go back to drawing board and start from scratch.... call it Cyborg 1.0. I could see Microsoft has a big smile on their face.

  1. Orbifold

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Android uses a Java knock off

    Dalvik is really Java but it's a modification of Apache's open source version which Oracle/Sun won't license. Google could convert to official Java if they have too. I think Google went this way because they needed something fast and they could draw on existing Java developers.

    Apple had years to get this right and there are enough Mac developers for them to use Objective C with 2 mature frameworks instead of Java with its overhead, which matters on smartphones.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Oracle can sue HTC, LG, and Motorola too

    The reason Android uses Dalvik instead of a Sun JVM is to avoid using Java ME (Micro Edition, for mobile and embedded devices.) Why? Because although standard Java is open source, and developers may contribute bug fixes and feature enhancements back to the community, Java ME is frozen. Java ME is freely available, but according to Wikipedia: "As of 2008, all Java ME platforms are currently restricted to JRE 1.3 features..."

    So, to avoid being locked into a standard Java ME implementation, Android Inc. (bought by Google in 2005) developed their own variant of the JVM, Dalvik. Google claims that their Java isn't "the real Java" and thus can't be sued for patent infringement and/or licensing violations. But apparently Oracle has looked into their implementation, which Google has published, and found too much code lifted straight from the reference Sun Java implementation.

    The short story is that to license Java, you need to be 100% compliant with the licensing agreement and the technical specs. Your byte code must run on all other Java platforms, and vice versa. Android's "Java" implementation is clearly a clone of the true Java yet it doesn't pass this test, so it is not compliant. Good luck in court, Google. You're going to need it.

    Oh, and there's one more thing...

    Oracle can and probably will sue HTC, LG, Motorola, and any other Android handset manufacturer. And those lawsuits will force them all to stop shipping Android handsets until they are all resolved. And that could take years. This first lawsuit against Google is just the opening round...

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