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LG, Motorola, more sharing 'copied' Oracle code via Android

updated 08:30 pm EST, Sun January 23, 2011

Android phone makers caught spreading Oracle Java

Further investigation by Florian Mueller has found that key Android phone manufacturers are sharing the allegedly copied Oracle code from Java. Online source code distributions for Motorola's Droid Pro and other Droid models, LG's Ally and Optimus models, and Samsung's Galaxy devices (including the Galaxy Tab) all have at least some of the code. The devices don't necessarily include the potentially patent infringing code in the on-device version, but their existence on the phone designers' respective sites may by itself be enough for legal trouble, Mueller said.

Some other companies, including Dell and HTC, don't have the disputed files. They may not necessarily have been aware of the possible risk, but the omission is considered unusual. Those who do have the code may also have been unaware but could still unintentionally have supported Oracle's case against Google.

Mueller went on to rebut claims that the code was strictly attached to test files that wouldn't have been used for production purposes. The code is general security code that could easily be used for production hardware, he said. Regardless of how or if the code is being used elsewhere, its very presence in an official capacity might be ruled as infringing by a judge.

The exploration if touched on by Oracle could have major ramifications for Google by further supporting Oracle's accusations of copying and by putting some of the blame on phone manufacturers for helping distribute the code, although whether or not they'd be held legally liable isn't certain. Google hasn't responded to the wave of accusations so far but, in court, has accused Oracle of misrepresenting code to improve its case.

Oracle if successful in its lawsuit could force Google to pay royalties for the use of Java-related code in every Android 2.2 device shipped or else force a code change to avoid any legal challenges. Google is already facing indirect patent challenges from Apple and Microsoft through lawsuits against phone manufacturers.

by MacNN Staff



  1. imactheknife

    Joined: Dec 1969


    good grief google

    Didn't you use your goggles when you dove into the world of phones and copyrights? I hope this burns them to the ground...

  1. chefpastry

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Go get 'em, Larry!!!

  1. thomasoniii

    Joined: Dec 1969


    There's no story here

    This "story" about infringement is overhyped nonsense that the media's run with because they smell blood in the water and think it'd be cool to see Google and Oracle fight. I swear there's some amount of desire to hold Google up and point out that despite their policy, they can be evil.

    Problem is - it's not true. For my counter argument, I refer to a real site that does real research in their reporting, Ars Technica:

    Some 3rd party (accidentally?) uploaded a source file from Sun that's freely available but NOT freely redistributable into the Android Source Repository. The code in question isn't actually used in their app, more of a bit of testing code for it. It jus got copied along for the ride because someone was sloppy.

    So if the site was repository (say, by LG or Motorola), they'd probably have the offending file in there as well. But, again, not on their phones.

    But it's not nearly as salacious a headline to say that a 3rd party developer incorrectly redistributed a freely available file via google's source repository. Google did nothing wrong here and definitely didn't steal anything.

  1. ASathin8R

    Joined: Dec 1969



    So Oracle has no case and Google Android didn't rip off the iOS UI...yet another Fandroid in denial.

  1. facebook_Benjamin

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jan 2011



    "omg Google ripped off the iOS UI", Are all you Apple Fanboy's 12 or something? Those of us that have ACTUALLY used Apple machines from the 70's all the way up to the present day don't blindly pretend that Apple haven't "drawn influence", ie taken something and called it their own, from others, from the very first Apple UI to present day Front Row. You Apple Fanboy's are as bad as the Microsoft Fanboys, you're all born in the 90's, and actually think that Jobs and Gates belong on a list of the worlds greatest, innovating computer scientists.

    Mark me down Fanboy's, your Fanboy blindness makes it that much funnier.

  1. facebook_Benjamin

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jan 2011


    comment title

    As for Mueller, there is nothing new here that anyone that can actually code didn't already suspect we might see. WHEN he can actually show it's on the phones then he'll have something interesting to show and a blog worth opening.

    More blog trolling from Mueller. More marking down from Apple Fanboy's because like all Fanboy's they just desperately want to hear how bad all the other companies are.

    When he ACTUALLY has something to show then he'll have a blog worth clicking.

  1. WaltFrench

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Step back an inch

    These copyright violations are cited IN ADDITION TO claims by Oracle that Androids have inappropriately copied, and built into their core OS, Oracle code. They were never cited as independently proving a violation of Oracle IP.

    Many of the commenters on Ars said something like, "OK, a foul. Fine Google $1 and get on with life because Oracle suffered no loss." Of course, if (a) Google and/or its manufacturers redistributed this code as part of their testing, etc., and (b) Oracle has lost market share to Google, this copying palpably HAS caused them harm.

    And the actual suit by Oracle, which does not mention these code scraps, goes to the heart of the Android OS. Much less opportunity to claim there was no per-handset redistribution.

    This news was posted as a sidelight, by-the-way item, showing that the Android software base was cobbled together without the absolutely strictest clean-room awareness, despite working with files marked as restricted. It may have been intentional by some "code wants to be free" type or it may have been sloppy, by some "huh?" type.

    I don't need to predict the outcome of the lawsuit, but this would seem to support Oracle's claims, and I don't think anybody contests that US law gives Oracle control over code that it paid for. Like it or don't.

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