Oracle in mega-lawsuit against Google over Java in Android

13 Aug 2010

Software giant Oracle, which acquired Sun Microsystems earlier this year, is suing search giant Google over the use of Java in the Android operating system. Android-based phones edged past Apple’s iPhone in terms of unit sales in the second quarter.

While a patent cross-licensing deal was never announced, Google was assumed to have rights to use Java. Google CEO Eric Schmidt was a former chief technology officer at Sun Microsystems, creator of the Java technology, and was instrumental in spreading Sun’s open software message at Google.

In its suit filed at a US District Court in North California Oracle said Google infringed the following patents: United States Patents Nos. 6,125,447; 6,192,476; 5,966,702; 7,426,720; RE38,104; 6,910,205; and 6,061,520.14.

The Android operating system has been an extraordinary success for Google. According to Gartner, Android’s global share of the smartphone market had leapt from 1.8pc a year ago to 17.2pc in the second quarter of 2010.

This has been largely at the expense of industry stalwarts like Research in Motion and Nokia.

In its suit against Google, Oracle said: “One of the most important technologies Oracle acquired with Sun was the Java platform. The Java platform, which includes code and other documentation and materials, was developed by Sun and first released in 1995. The Java platform is a bundle of related programs, specifications, reference implementations, and developer tools and resources that allow a user to deploy applications written in the Java programming language on servers, desktops, mobile devices and other devices.

Oracle said that, to date, the Java platform has attracted more than 6.5 million software developers. “It is used in every major industry segment and has a ubiquitous presence in a wide range of computers, networks, and devices, including cellular telephones and other mobile devices. Sun’s development of the Java platform resulted in many computing innovations and the issuance to Sun of a substantial number of important patents.”

Oracle went on to say: “Google’s Android competes with Oracle America’s Java as an operating system software platform for cellular telephones and other mobile devices. The Android operating system software “stack” consists of Java applications running on a Java-based object-oriented application framework, and core libraries running on a “Dalvik” virtual machine (VM) that features just-in-time (JIT) compilation. Google actively distributes Android (including withoutlimitation the Dalvik VM and the Android software development kit) and promotes its use by manufacturers of products and applications.”

Oracle added: “On information and belief, Google has been aware of Sun’s patent portfolio, including the patents at issue, since the middle of this decade, when Google hired certain former Sun Java engineers.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years