Oracle has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Google and the bone of contention is Google's use of Java in the Android smartphone. In theory Java is free to use without royalties, so the tech community is abuzz wondering specifically what this is all about. Has Google run afoul of the patent grant that governs use of Java?
Oracle's statement makes it clear that it is suing Google for "patent and copyright infringement".
"In developing Android, Google knowingly, directly, and repeatedly infringed Oracle's Java-related intellectual property" an Oracle spokesperson said in a statement. "This lawsuit seeks appropriate remedies for their infringement."
You can find a copy of the complaint posted on VentureBeat, in which Oracle claims that Android, the Android SDK, and Dalvik all infringe on seven patents. The complaint also alleges that Google "knowingly, willingly, and unlawfully" copied, prepared, published, and distributed its intellectual property.
Google makes extensive use of Java in the Android SDK (software development kit). It's a bit twisty, but here's how it works: Android developers write their applications in native Java. The Java application code is translated into bytecode, and the bytecode is then run in Dalvik, the virtual machine environment in Android.
The interesting part is that the Android SDK is largely independent from Oracle's. It uses its own compiler and runtime tailored specifically for Android. Where the dividing lines and differences are will no doubt be a topic of courtroom discussion.
It's too early to tell how this battle between two giants in the tech industry will pan out, but it's rare for Oracle to file infringement lawsuits without some credible basis. With a company that has as large a footprint as Google it's nearly impossible to conduct any large-scale operations without running afoul of somebody somewhere. If there is proven to be actual infringement it'll be interesting to see whether or not the infringement was deliberate or just the result of sloppy or under-controlled business practices.