Oracle's Suit Against Android Finally Going to Trial - The UpStream

Oracle's Suit Against Android Finally Going to Trial

posted Sunday Apr 15, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Oracle's Suit Against Android Finally Going to Trial

Two of the largest companies in the technology world are preparing for an all-out war that could affect the future of Google, Android and mobile technology as a whole. In August of 2010, Oracle filed suit against Google for intellectual property theft in regards to Android. Well, that case, which has changed in size over the past 2 years, goes to trial on Monday and there is a lot on the line.

Oracle believes that Google, in using certain libraries developed in the Java programming language, owned by Oracle through its $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems Inc. in early 2010, violated its intellectual property. Google, who is a known supporter of the "everyone should be able to use it" mentality believes that it has done nothing wrong and says that the technology used isn't covered by copyright.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who will be presiding over the case, described this as "the World Series of IP cases." Why did he say that and how will the case affect the technology world? Hit the break to find out.

If Oracle wins this case, it will mean Google will owe them $1 billion in damages for the 150 million existing Android devices and 0.515 percent of Android's future revenue. That is a lot more than the Street View fine, and will probably teach Google a lesson about stealing technology. It will also solidify that application programming interfaces (APIs), which are intermediate tools used in development, are protected technology. Professional development houses rely on this to stay in business. In fact, Google charges quite a hefty fee to use its own Google Maps API, along with other Google-produced APIs.

Oracle's lawyer, Michael Jacobs, said about the case,

We're talking about the design of the libraries by designers who are designing something that is an art, not a science, and that is creative.

This is something that non-designers don't understand. The best description I have ever heard of the process was by President and CEO of Sumo Software Corporation, Mark Lauter, describing it saying,

We do not build cars for a living. Instead, we invent cars for a living.

Google does not agree. Now, this will upset anyone who is a true software designer, but will not surprise anyone who knows Google and their tactics. Google's lawyer, Michael Kwun, said,

Having two different ways of organizing something doesn't mean those are expression... {It} just means those are two different ideas.

According to that logic, Google charging for its Maps API isn't legal or ethical because Bing also has a mapping service. They both took different routes to arrive at the same solution - an API that allows people to plot locations on a map.

If I had to guess, I would say that Google is going to lose this one. There is no doubt that what they did is theft; just because Google doesn't care won't change anything. A win for Google here would be a major negative impact on the software industry, but a loss would be a major impact on the mobile industry. Google relies on income from Android to fill in the gaps in its search advertising revenue, due in part to Amazon's increased footprint in that space. This, combined with Google closing Android's open door might scare manufacturers away. Maybe this is the opening webOS needs for a comeback.

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