Google Denounces 'Baseless' Oracle Lawsuit

The lawsuit seeks the destruction of Android software for violating Java patents and copyrights that Oracle acquired from Sun.
Oracle on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Google alleging patent and copyright infringement for Google's use of Sun's Java technology in its Android operating system, a move that Java creator and Sun veteran James Gosling finds entirely unsurprising.

Gosling suggests that when Oracle was negotiating its acquisition of Sun, a deal completed in January, the potential for intellectual property infringement claims based on Sun's Java assets excited Oracle's legal team.

"During the 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," Gosling wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

Gosling left Sun in April, following its acquisition by Oracle.

Miguel de Icaza, a programmer known for his work on GNOME and Mono, takes Gosling's comment as confirmation that former Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz "shopped Sun with a big 'Sue Google' sign."

According to de Icaza, Sun had sought payment from Google for its use of Java in Android but Google created its own Java virtual machine, Dalvik, to avoid Java Micro Edition licensing fees.

Oracle declined to comment on Gosling's account of the Sun acquisition, but had this to say about its complaint: "In developing Android, Google knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle's Java-related intellectual property," said Oracle spokesperson Karen Tillman. "This lawsuit seeks appropriate remedies for their infringement."

Google dismissed the lawsuit as an unwarranted attack on the company and the open-source community.

"We are disappointed Oracle has chosen to attack both Google and the open-source Java community with this baseless lawsuit," a Google spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. "The open-source Java community goes beyond any one corporation and works every day to make the Web a better place. We will strongly defend open-source standards and will continue to work with the industry to develop the Android platform."

The lawsuit says Android's Dalvik virtual machine infringes upon multiple Java patents and notes that "Google has been aware of Sun's patent portfolio, including the patents at issue, since the middle of this decade, when Google hired certain former Sun Java engineers."

It seeks an order that the Android software "made or used in violation of Oracle America's copyrights ... be impounded and destroyed or otherwise reasonably disposed of."

The lawsuit is sure to please Apple, which faces a growing threat from the success of Android. Attempting to address this threat, Apple recently filed a patent lawsuit against HTC, a Taiwanese maker of Android phones. As it happens, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is a friend of Apple CEO Steve Jobs and served on the board of Apple from 1997 through 2002.

While the outcome of the lawsuit probably won't be known for years, Java may suffer in the interim. Developers commenting on the lawsuit believe Oracle's litigation will drive programmers away from Java.

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