Oracle Java Lawsuit Could Jolt Android Market: 10 Reasons Why

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2012-04-18

Oracle Java Lawsuit Could Jolt Android Market: 10 Reasons Why

Google and Oracle are currently in court battling over whether Google violated Oracle's copyrights (no, not patents) when it used Java application programming interfaces (APIs) as part of its Android app development processor. If Google wins the case, Android will get off free, and the company won't be forced to pay the massive $1 billion or more in damages Oracle is hoping to be awarded in the event it wins the case.

This trial has been a long time coming. Back in 2010, after acquiring Java along with its buyout of Sun Microsystems, Oracle sued Google over its use of the platform. Since then, the companies have tried on numerous occasions to strike a deal, but the amount Google has been willing to pay to make the case go away has not satisfied Oracle. Now, a court will decide which side should win out.

Although talk of Google and Oracle has been going on for quite some time, many consumers have ignored the developments, reasoning that it won't impact them. But that couldn't be further from the truth. Everyone should keep a close eye on Google's Oracle lawsuit and realize that it could have a major impact on Android phone makers and Android device users.

Read on to find out why you should keep a close eye on Google's Oracle lawsuit:

1. Big money could change hands

Chances are, either Google or Oracle will be doling out a significant amount of cash when this case is finally decided. As noted, Oracle would like to make as much as $1 billion in this case, while Google will likely walk away with attorneys' fees and, perhaps, some damages in the event it wins. Either way, expect big money to change hands, and depending on which way it goes, for the companies' stock prices to be affected.

2. It's Google chance to defend itself

Google has been getting hit from all angles in the mobile space as of late. Companies argue that the Android operating system violates a host of patents (or in Oracle's case, copyrights), and Google has so far not made it clear why it believes it's innocent. This case is the company's chance to do just that.

3. Android is under fire

Following that, it's not clear what an Oracle win might do to Android cases going on elsewhere around the world. Much of the legal system across the world is based in the subjective interpretation of highly sophisticated user agreements and contracts. If Google is found guilty in this case, it might negatively impact ongoing Android cases currently being battled in courts around the world. Each nation has its own copyright and patent laws and their own way of interpreting them.

4. It could impact future lawsuits

At this same time, there's no telling how this case might impact future lawsuits. Will Oracle find other areas in which it believes Google might be illegally using its software? Will Microsoft try to find other areas in which Android, and thus Google, is violating some of its own patents? A Google victory could stymie other legal efforts to curtail Google's immense market power. A Google loss could do quite the opposite.

The Ultimate Winner in Java Case Might Be Microsoft


5. Third-party vendors would be affected

Since Google doesn't actually build its own hardware, just about every third-party Android vendor is following the Oracle case closely. A Google victory means that they can go about their business without facing lawsuits or making big payouts to Oracle for the right to keep loading Android into their products. An Oracle win, however, could empower Oracle to demand damages from Android device makers. The stakes are high for third-party vendors.

6. It could dramatically change Android

One of the most interesting aspects of this case is that if Google loses, it would either need to license Java from Oracle or dramatically alter how its operating system works. Java is a key ingredient in the way that Android runs. Without Java Google would likely need to rebuild its mobile platform from the ground up.

7. Developers would be in trouble

Why might Google need to build Android from the ground up? Just about every single Android application relies upon Java APIs to run. So Google would have to replace that with something. And by replacing it, the company's developer partners would need to rebuild their applications to address the Java loss. It would have a huge impact on the Android ecosystem.

8. CEOs are revealing a lot

Google CEO Larry Page and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison are both taking the stand to be questioned in this case. Already, those testimonies are revealing rather interesting information, including Ellison admitting that he had plans to take Android on before he sued the search company. Look for many more juicy details to spill out as testimony from the chief executives continues.

9. It could help Apple

Android's biggest competitor right now is Apple. Although Apple is not directly affected by the proceedings, it might be able to benefit in the event Google loses. Developers would have to rebuild applications€”a costly prospect€”and vendors could come under fire. If Google loses, the Android ecosystem could be thrown into downright fear, uncertainty and doubt. All the while, Apple's products would remain on store shelves and continue to gain market share.

10. Microsoft could be the biggest benefactor from an Oracle victory

Ultimately, however, it would be Microsoft that would benefit most from an Oracle victory. If the Android ecosystem becomes toxic to vendors, it's likely they'll rush to Windows Phone 7 to keep selling phones. Developers, displeased by the Java ruling, would follow suit. Microsoft, perhaps more than any other third party, wants to see Oracle win this case against Google.

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