Google Fires Back at Oracle over Android Lawsuit

Google denied Oracle's claims of patent and copyright infringement related to its use of Java in Android. Google also alleged Oracle is singling out Android among open-source software.

Google denied Oracle's claims of patent and copyright infringement related to its use of Java in Android and countered that the company is singling out its operating system after years of supporting open-source software.

Oracle, whose patents it controls through its Sun Microsystems acquisition early this year, in August sued Google over its use of Java in the open source Android operating system.

Android, activated on more than 200,000 devices per day, includes Java applications running on a Java-based application framework and core libraries running on a Dalvik virtual machine. Oracle filed seven counts of patent infringement and one copyright claim.

Google filed its counterclaim in California district court Oct. 4, asking the judge to dismiss Oracle's suit and render the patents Oracle holds invalid.

To demonstrate inconsistency on the part of its accuser, Google said Oracle complained when Sun refused to release all of Java to open source, retaining control over the use of Java on mobile devices.

That was in 2006. Google stated that Oracle advanced its support for fully open Java in February 2009, but changed its tune after acquiring Sun in January 2010.

"Since that time, and directly contrary to Oracle Corp.'s public actions and statements, as well as its own proposals as an executive member of the JCP [Java Community Process], Oracle Corp. and Sun have ignored the open-source community's requests to fully open-source the Java platform," Google claimed.

Google added in a public statement: "It's disappointing that after years of supporting open source, Oracle turned around to attack-not just Android-but the entire open-source Java community with vague software patent claims. Open platforms like Android are essential to innovation, and we will continue to support the open-source community to make the mobile experience better for consumers and developers alike."

Oracle spokesperson Deborah Hellinger dismissed this position, noting that Google chose to use Java code without obtaining a license when it built Android.

"Additionally, it modified the technology, so it is not compliant with Java's central design principle to -write once and run anywhere'," Hellinger added. "Google's infringement and fragmentation of Java code not only damage Oracle, it clearly harms consumers, developers and device manufacturers."

Oracle's suit is one of a few major legal attacks against Android, though the first specifically against Google, which released the OS code to open source in 2008. The bulk of the legal blows against Android have come against manufacturers who built Android smartphones.

Apple in March sued HTC, claiming it violated 20 of its patents surrounding the iPhone's interface, architecture and hardware. Microsoft just last week sued Motorola, claiming its Android smartphones violated nine software patents.

IDC analyst Al Hilwa told eWEEK the legal skirmishes waged against Android will continue for some time, sowing seeds of doubt over the Android platform and those who choose to build smartphones, tablet computers and applications for it.

"Microsoft suing Motorola casts additional shadows on Android, but I don't see any sign that Google will step in with any promise to indemnify Android OEMs for patent-infringement liabilities, so that uncertainty continues in the market," Hilwa added. "Lawsuits like this are not going to accelerate the adoption of Android, though I haven't seen anyone walk away just yet."