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.
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.
It seems pretty clear to me that the documents cited in the Oracle pdf file from Google indicate that Google knew and was originally looking to license Java APIs etc. I am wondering how Google thinks they can avoid this type of patent lawsuit (especially given the popularity of Android AND the fragmentation it causes). Anyone have insight on this?
It seems pretty clear to me that Google knew it needed licenses from their own emails cited in the Oracle pdf file. Why did they not just pay for it up front? I would love to know/understand how they can think otherwise. I may not have Patents but I hope that something as clear as this is settled quickly and fairly. I would hate to think that this could happen to something I had developed.
IMO groklaw.net is the best place to read about the history of this case and the current goings-on at the trial including play-by-play reporting by volunteers. Addressing the patent question, my understanding is that most of the patents Oracle asserted have been found invalid by reexamination by the USPTO, one may be found invalid, and the other Google claims not to infringe. It's very dangerous to assert patents against Google since they are in such a good position to search for and find prior art, rendering the patent invalid.