SAN JOSE – Three things are clear about Oracle’s Java patent infringement suit against Google’s Android: It will likely drag on for years, it poses a great but remote risk to Android and Java developers and it will make for lots of fascinating reading.
When the suit was filed nearly two years ago, we predicted it wouldn’t dampen enthusiasm for Android. Indeed the mobile operating systems has now become the most widely used smartphone OS and has expanded its popularity across the diverse embedded systems terrain.
Nevertheless, the case poses the risk Google might be forced to change parts of the Android code, fragmenting what has become a leading open source software platform. That’s a remote possibility to be sure, but if it came to pass it would be the equivalent of an earthquake for mobile and embedded developers.
Ironically, about a year after the case was filed James Gosling, the father of Java at Sun Microsystems, joined Google. After Oracle acquired Sun, Gosling expressed concerns about Oracle’s plans around Java.
"During our integration meetings between Sun and Oracle, where we were being grilled about the patent situation between Sun and Google, we could see the Oracle lawyer’s eyes sparkle," said Gosling in his blog where he notes he has left Google for a robotics company.
The good news is the case makes for fascinating reading, and there’s a lot to read. Slides of the opening arguments from Oracle and from Google are both available online as is the initial case filing.
The most chilling part of the suit for Android users is the following claim from Oracle: "Users of Android, including device manufacturers, must obtain and use copyrightable portions of the Java platform or works derived therefrom to manufacture and use functioning Android devices," Oracle claims in its suit.
The case hit the headlines this week as chief executives from both companies took the stand. The LA Times said Google’s Larry Page was evasive, and one analyst said Oracle’s Larry Ellison stumbled.
Among the many reporters and bloggers following the case, Florian Mueller stands out as one focused on the current mobile patent wars. He shared a helpful link of journalists tweeting from the courtroom for those who want ongoing coverage.
Mueller is providing plenty of remote analysis on the trial, including his take on 37 Oracle APIs in Android and the $700 million argument between Google and Oracle.