Oracle vs. Google Android: A Closer Look At Java Lawsuit
Back in January 2010, when Oracle completed the Sun Microsystems buyout, The VAR Guy issued a warning to Larry Ellison and Company: Don’t Mess Up Java. Fast forward to the present, and Java is at the heart of a lawsuit Oracle has filed against Google. The lawsuit involves Google’s use of Java inside the Google Android OS. Here’s a closer look plus my personal perspectives.
It’s not hard to see why Oracle would suddenly care about Google’s use of Java. Android (featuring Java) is gaining popularity as a smart phone and tablet operating system. Oracle’s official statement claims…
“In developing Android, Google knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle’s Java-related intellectual property. This lawsuit seeks appropriate remedies for their infringement,”
But is that really the case? Google’s official comment is that the entire lawsuit is baseless because Google went out of their way to develop their own Java machine dubbed “Dalvik” instead of paying licensing fees for Java Micro. Google’s approach caused some ire in the community, but it was Google’s way of providing a more open-source solution.
Some pundits see Dalvik as ‘cloning’ technology, and hence, the lawsuit isn’t baseless since it apparently infringes on software patents. But Google says…
“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.”
Meanwhile, InformationWeek notes that the Oracle legal team was exploring Google’s use of Java during Oracle’s negotiation meetings with Sun.
Now, for my opinion. A friendly reminder: My thoughts my not necessarily reflect those of The VAR Guy and this web site’s publisher.
I believe, however naive, that Google’s motto (“Don’t Be Evil”) is part of the reason they developed Dalvik. Google’s promise of Android is cross-platform development and free development for all who care to join the Android ecosystem. Extending that and providing that as far as possible would require no issues with licensing fees or any other sort of legal trouble, I believe.
For Oracle to sit and wait so long to send this suit to Google seems dubious. Sun never bothered to attack Google’s use of Java. So why is Oracle taking this step now? More importantly, why would Oracle wait so long to sue, considering Java became Oracle property in January of 2010?
One could argue that in November of 2009, with the advent of the Motorola Droid, Android finally had a decent takeoff into the mainstream. Now, nearly a year later, with Android gaining a huge foothold and overtaking Apple’s iOS in terms of unit sales, Oracle suddenly sees dollar signs. But if Oracle wins this case, I believe they could be screwing up Java by making it miserable for Android developers in the future.
We’ll have to wait and see, but it seems like a heated legal battle will decide whether or not Google’s implementation of Java through Dalvik stands up to software patent scrutiny. Or did Google actually infringe on some serious software patents. (For deeper legal insights, CNET.com has some more perspectives via Scribd.)
VARs and MSPs with any experience in Java and programing, chime in on how you feel and what you think. Is Java Micro and Dalvik sufficiently different from each other, or has Google borrowed and cloned a technology to create a licensing loophole?