This week Oracle filed a lawsuit against Google alleging infringement of Java-related patents and copyrights in Android.
Android applications are developed in Java, but class files are translated to a different bytecode to run on Google's Dalvik VM, not the JVM. This approach allows Google to leverage the large base of Java developers and tools ecosystem for Android application development, while not being officially "Java."
In a press release Thursday, Oracle spokesperson Karen Tillman said:
In developing Android, Google knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle's Java-related intellectual property. This lawsuit seeks appropriate remedies for their infringement.
Google replied on Friday with:
We are disappointed Oracle has chosen to attack both Google and the open-source Java community with this baseless lawsuit. 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 patents listed all have to do with the virtual machine:
6,125,447 entitled "Protection Domains To Provide Security In A Computer System"
6,192,476, entitled "Controlling Access To A Resource"
5,966,702, entitled "Method And Apparatus For Preprocessing And Packaging Class Files"
7,426,720 entitled "System And Method For Dynamic Preloading Of Classes Through Memory Space Cloning Of A Master Runtime System Process"
RE38,104, entitled "Method And Apparatus For Resolving Data References In Generated Code"
6,910,205, entitled "Interpreting Functions Utilizing A Hybrid Of Virtual And Native Machine Instructions"
6,061,520, entitled "Method And System for Performing Static Initialization"
The copyright infringement claim is more vague:
The Java platform contains a substantial amount of original material (including without limitation code, specifications, documentation and other materials) that is copyrightable subject matter...
Without consent, authorization, approval, or license, Google knowingly, willingly, and unlawfully copied, prepared, published, and distributed Oracle America’s copyrighted work, portions thereof, or derivative works and continues to do so. Google’s Android infringes Oracle America’s copyrights in Java and Google is not licensed to do so.
On information and belief, users of Android, including device manufacturers, must obtain and use copyrightable portions of the Java platform or works derived therefrom to manufacture and use functioning Android devices. Such use is not licensed. Google has thus induced, caused, and materially contributed to the infringing acts of others by encouraging, inducing, allowing and assisting others to use, copy, and distribute Oracle America’s copyrightable works, and works derived therefrom.
What is your take on Google's use of Java in this way, the merits of Oracle's lawsuit, and the focus on open source in Google's response?
This will be interesting to watch. The script is pretty obvious to anybody who's watched big company lawsuits: Google will countersue, claiming Oracle has infringed on Google's patents; Google will try to invalidate Oracle's patents; and Google will try to design around any patents that it can't invalidate. I'm curious to see how well those measures work, or if Google will eventually hand any money over to Oracle.
I don't see anything wrong with the creation of the Dalvik VM.
Since one of the more innovative patents in question is the basis of the Java security architecture, I suspect Google will develop a "new and improved" security architecture that uses a completely different approach to the problem.
The copyright claim is too vague for me to have much of an opinion on. Since both Dalvik and OpenJDK are open source, any infringement in Dalvik itself should be pretty open and shut -- either it's there or it's not. If this turns out to be a weak claim, I hope the lawyers face sanctions for wasting the court's time over code that is freely available without the need for discovery.
As you quoted, however, the claim itself potentially implicates specifications, documentation and other material, and Google may have infringed on this copyrighted work by way of derivative works. I suspect that the material in question has to do with the Java Compatibility Test Tools, but there isn't enough information at this time to know for sure.
Idunno. Dalvik is not a JVM. It's completely different, in every aspect. My impression is that Google will go to court and state they don't need a license for Dalvik, since it simply doesn't have anything to do with the Java licenses. And then go on to prove that their code is not infringing on any of the patents mentioned by Oracle - which all seem very related to the structure of the JVM.
If I' thinking this through correctly, I suppose Google will insist on not paying a penny to Oracle. Doing so could harm the good standing of Android with device manufacturers.
I do think, however that this is a serious issue, which can have no other outcome than a damage to Java's standing with developers and software companies alike. With this, I think Oracle shot itself in the foot - they probably bought Sun only for Java - they already had offerings in all other areas where Sun was active, and now they are deliberately decreaasing the value of the one thing that was interesting for them in the acquisition.