Battle of the Titans Has Begun: Google Fights Oracle for the Future of Android
Here's another patent lawsuit case, but this one is just now heating up instead of potentially winding down like "ck's" story a little bit ago. Just yesterday the battle for the future of Android began between the two tech giants, Google and Oracle. In case you missed it, Oracle has been suing Google for quite some time because they claim that Google's Android OS infringes upon several of their patents related to Java, since some of Android is based upon the Java mobile platform. Oracle made Java open-source, except for much of its mobile version. That part they license out for a fee. Basically, Google figured out a clever way to circumvent this by building an elaborate custom version of a key system to avoid those licensing fees.
As Android rapidly became the world dominating mobile platform, Oracle cried fowl and decided to take Google to court over it. They originally asked for a somewhere between $1.4 billion and $6.1 billion in damages as compensation, but that was thrown out by the judge as "over-reaching", and now they are shooting for a different figure. If its lawsuit Oracles lawsuit is successful, they could force Google to pay tens of millions of dollars in retroactive licensing fees, and potentially hundreds of millions more in the future. Even those these amounts seem paltry and could be easily paid by Google, Oracle doesn't necessarily really want to get just money from Google. Ultimately, Oracle is really just trying to force the court to decide that their version of Java should be the dominant one, which would ultimately allow them to exert more control of the mobile software development in the world. In fact, several reports suggest that Oracle was considering entering the smartphone market prior to this, but Google beat them to it.
After over twenty months of prep work, and several hearings later, the court case finally went to trial just yesterday. The two behemoths will be battling for supremacy in a fight that will likely drag on for several more years, if not a decade or more. As always, we will try and keep you abreast of things as they develop, bit don't expect it to be decided anytime soon.
As an interesting bit of history on this whole shebang, below is a quote from a PCWorld article with a pretty complete timeline of the drama:
Source: CNN and PCWorld
August 2005 -- Google buys Android Inc. Soon after, it discusses the possibility of licensing Java from Sun.
October 2005 -- Andy Rubin, the head of Google's Android division, writes in an email that Google can either adopt Microsoft's C# for Android or "do Java anyway and defend our decision, perhaps making enemies along the way." Over the next several months, Google and Sun continue to negotiate for a Java license but fail to reach a deal.
February 2006 -- Sun supposedly offers Google a three-year Java license for US$20 million plus 10 percent of Google's Android-related revenue, capped at $25 million. Google rejects the offer.
November 2007 -- Google announces publicly that it is developing Android, which includes a Java-compatible virtual machine called Dalvik.
October 2008 -- HTC releases the first Android phone, the HTC Dream.
January 2010 -- Oracle acquires Sun and inherits its Java patents and copyrights.
July 2010 -- Oracle meets with Google's lawyers to discuss Oracle's patent infringement allegations.
Aug. 6, 2010 -- Rubin receives an email from a Google engineer stating that the alternatives to Java "all suck" and that "we need to negotiate a license for Java under the terms we need."
Aug. 12, 2010 -- Oracle files a lawsuit against Google, accusing it of infringing seven Java patents and its Java copyrights. Google denies any wrongdoing and calls the lawsuit a "baseless attack" on Google and open-source developers.
January 2011 -- Android accounts for one-third of all smartphone sales, Canalys says.
February 2011 -- Google asks the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to reexamine Oracle's patents, arguing they shouldn't have been issued. By the time the trial starts, only two of the seven patents remain in the suit.
June 2011 -- A court filing reveals that Oracle is seeking between $1.4 billion and $6.1 billion in damages.
July 2011 -- A judge rules that Oracle "overreached" with its damages estimate and tells it to recalculate.
September 2011 -- The CEOs of Oracle and Google, Larry Ellison and Larry Page, are ordered to hold settlement talks but can't reach agreement.
November 2011 -- Android accounts for more than 50 percent of smartphone sales, Gartner says.
March 2012 -- The two sides are ordered to hold more settlement talks but still can't reach a deal.
April -- An eight-week jury trial is scheduled to begin Monday, April 16, at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.