Enterprise Mobility: Google, Apple, Oracle, Others Locked in Android Patent Suit Showdown
Oracle vs. Google
Oracle in August 2010 sued Google for patent and copyright infringement over Google's use of Java in its open-source Android operating system. Oracle, which purchased Sun Microsystems and renamed it Oracle America in January, accused Google of infringing seven Java patents and other copyrights. The latest argument is over how much Google would have to pay Oracle for damages if the database software maker wins. It could be $3 billion or more, with damages and licensing fees factored in. Oracle is also reportedly seeking licensing fees of $15 to $20 per gadget from Android OEMs.
These are anxious days for Google, its Android team and Android OEMs. After building up Android into one of the world's most popular mobile operating system platforms they have to watch as their efforts are threatened by a plethora of patent infringement lawsuits and countersuits. Oracle, Apple and Microsoft are waging a no-holds-barred patent war against the search engine's super-successful Android platform. Launched to open source in 2007, Android poked its head out in phones in 2008 and gained steam in 2009 thanks to the Motorola Droid and the $100 million-plus marketing campaign Verizon Wireless put behind it when it couldn't secure Apple's iPhone. Then 2010 came and Android growth exploded, shooting past Research In Motion's BlackBerry and then Apple's iPhone thanks to the help of a few hundred phone launches by Samsung (the Galaxy S line), the HTC Evo 4G and several other Droid handsets. Android early this year became the leading smartphone provider in the U.S., with anywhere between 35 and 40 percent market share. Now Apple and Microsoft are hounding Samsung, HTC and Motorola for a cut of what they claim are technologies these OEMs use in their Android handsets. Perhaps the worst lawsuit for Google is the one Oracle is waging against Android for its allegedly unlawful use of Java in the Android codebase. Patent IP expert Florian Mueller believes there are at least 48 Android-related lawsuits wending their way through the court systems. In this slide show, eWEEK highlights some of the core issues, with an assist from Mueller.