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Oracle: Google knew it needed Java license for Android

updated 07:05 pm EDT, Mon April 16, 2012

Oracle starts off Google lawsuit with use of mail

Oracle formally kicked off the trial in its copyright and patent lawsuit against Google by citing telling Google e-mail. One of the plaintiff's lawyers, Michael Jacobs, referred to messages from Google engineers and executives that the company likely needed a license from Oracle to keep implementing Java in Android. The attorney saw this as evidence that Google knew it had done something wrong and simply hoped to hold out.

An example included statements by Google's mobile VP and Android co-founder Andy Rubin, who not only mentioned trouble negotiating a license but also that Google could be "making enemies." Jacobs interpreted this as as sign that Google knew it might antagonize copyright and patent holders. Among evidence, he pointed to the US Constitution's references to copyright protection and Google actively telling staff not to show Android to Sun workers at trade events before Sun had been acquired by Oracle.

Most of the trial as defined will center on questions of whether or not an app programing interface (API) can be copyrighted. Oracle has taken the view that an API is a special work, while Google defines an API as just an instrument to create code that itself might be copyrightable. If Google can define elements like API as unprotected, Oracle's case could fall apart, as the need for a license itself would be void.

Google is due to present countering arguments on Tuesday. Whether or not it succeeds in questioning Oracle's view, it has already managed a key win in having the San Francisco-based trial split into three phases, where copyrights, patents, and remaining issues are tackled individually. The strategy could see it make an offer if it loses early or persevere if it believes it has a chance at winning the case.

Any verdict could have major ramifications if Google and Oracle choose not to settle. A Google win could set a precedent against API copyrights and would make any attempt by Oracle to collect on Java more difficult. An Oracle win could not only see more widespread charging to use APIs but could have a chilling effect on Android. Oracle has had to scale back damage claims, but it may still have to pay ongoing royalties and potentially add a cost to the normally free Android license. [via Mercury News and Dan Levine]

by MacNN Staff



  1. The Vicar

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not that I like Oracle, exactly, but...

    I'd love it if Google were slapped with crippling fines for willful infringement. (The email in question demonstrates that if there is infringement, it is definitely willful, and therefore carries a higher fine than it otherwise would.)

  1. sribe

    Joined: Dec 1969


    email demonstrates nothing

    It's out of context. For instance, the so-called "Lindholm email" was an engineer's opinion as to how certain patents would effect Google, ASSUMING THE PATENTS WERE VALID, which has turned out to be very much not the case. I suspect these other emails are similar. And as for the one about "making enemies", that means absolutely nothing--all it would take to make an enemy of Oracle is that Oracle wanted big $$$ for a license, regardless of whether there were ANY grounds to require it.

    Wait until Google has a chance to put the emails into context by presenting the whole conversation, then judge--but even now, you should be taking a clue from the FACT that most of Oracle's case vaporized in pre-trial motions, and what is actually going to trial are tiny issues for relatively tiny damages, predicated on some very aggressive interpretations of copyright law that have never before been tried.

  1. BigMac2

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Java = Bags of hurts

    JAVA is the new basic from 30 years ago, It is not a high performance runtime environment, JAVA is more like a fast lane to bad development. Google cannot compete with Apple and Microsoft on native runtime environment as long they will keep their JavaVM as the only runtime API.

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