In a clash of two Silicon Valley titans, Oracle said Thursday that it has filed a federal copyright lawsuit alleging that Google's popular Android operating system was built on Oracle's Java software without permission.
Android, which was first released in late 2008, is used by several computer manufacturers as the operating system that runs smartphones and other computing devices. Oracle's lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern California, accuses Google of infringing on patents and copyrights that Oracle acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems earlier this year.
Google had no immediate comment.
But one analyst called the lawsuit surprising because Sun, whose engineers developed Java, decided several years ago to release key elements of the widely used programming language under an open-source license which allows others to use it freely.
"Java is essential for Android," said Al Hilwa, a software expert at the IDC research firm. "But a big chunk of Java is open-source. Since Android has been out there for more than a year, most people would have expected they were in compliance with whatever license terms apply."
Android's growth in the first half of 2010 has been enormous, with Google CEO Eric Schmidt saying last week that more than 200,000 smartphones powered by Google's mobile operating system are being activated around the world each day. Gartner, a prominent research firm, said Thursday that Android is
now the most popular smartphone operating system in the United States, and is on the verge of becoming the second most popular in the world, closing in on Research In Motion's Blackberry.
All four major U.S. wireless carriers now offer smartphones powered by Android,.
While just 1.8 percent of the world's smartphones were running Android in the second quarter of 2009, Android now has 17.2 percent of the worldwide smartphone share, or 10.6 million phones, just behind RIM's 18.2 percent and 11.2 million phones, according to the Gartner report. Nokia's Symbian remains the world most popular smartphone operating system at 41.2 percent of the global market, but both Android and Apple's iPhone are rapidly eating into the market share of Nokia, RIM and Microsoft Windows Mobile phones.
Android's growth means more search revenue for Google, as consumers use their smartphones to search the web. Google does not break out its revenue from mobile search, but Google searches from Android devices grew by 300 percent during the first half of 2010, Jonathan Rosenberg, a Google senior vice president, recently told analysts.
The first Android phone, the T-Moble G1, went on sale in October 2008, and Android phones are now available in about 50 different countries.
Oracle sues Google over Android operating system - San Jose Mercury News