How the Oracle-Google Android Suit Will Shake Out

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-08-14 Print this article Print


James Gosling, who created Java while working for Sun, said he knew the day would come when Oracle would train its legal guns on Google.

Positioning Oracle's suit as an attack on open source is a masterful stroke by Google. The software development community is ringed with open-source software supporters. One, software developer Florian Mueller, wrote in his blog Aug. 13 that Oracle is going after open source with this suit.

"Even if some Android-based or Android-related products may include components that don't meet open-source criteria, I find it impossible to imagine that the patents Oracle tries to enforce here would be infringed only by closed-source components and not by Android's many open-source components.

"Therefore, I consider this a patent attack on free software and open source," Mueller added.

Miguel de Icaza, who created the GNOME and Mono open-source projects, said Google's Android team angered Sun when, instead of licensing the Java Micro Edition, it took the code and recompiled it to form the Dalvik virtual machine.

This enabled Google to obviate "whatever licensing technicalities they were aware at the time of the negotiations."

De Icaza said he believes Google will pay Sun billions of dollars to license the Java code for Android, but may not offer protection for those developing Android applications.

"An unlikely scenario is for Google to pay the bills for all Android OEMs as they are coming out fast and strong from every corner of the world," he wrote. "It occurred to me that Oracle could sell all the Java assets to Google. But Google probably passed on this opportunity back when Sun was put on the market."

Whatever the case, this is a legal battle that is likely to drag on, with Google's future to effectively penetrate the mobile Web versus Apple's iPhone in the balance.


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