Is Oracle trying to piggyback on Android success?

by Abhinna Shreshtha    Aug 13, 2010

Oracle announced yesterday that it has filed a complaint against Google for patent and copyright infringement

Oracle, which acquired Java through its $7.4 billion deal earlier this year, says Google infringed on Java-related IP during the development of its Android platform. In a statement issued yesterday, Oracle spokesperson – Karen Tillman accused Google of ‘knowingly, directly, and repeatedly’ infringing IPs now owned by Oracle. “This lawsuit seeks appropriate remedies for their infringement,” said Tillman.

It is not exactly clear what Oracle wants as compensation from Google, but Nishant Singh, managing analyst for Ovum India feels the decision could be fuelled by Android’s growing popularity. According to analyst reports, Android had a 17% market share worldwide last quarter, up from 2.9% for the same period last year. “Considering the complexities, this could prove to be a long-drawn affair; if Oracle does win this one, it will have its hand in the lucrative mobile market pie. With Google reporting sales of 200,000 Android devices every day, Oracle does seem to hoping for its share of Android’s success,” opines Singh.

Java is crucial to Android, which uses the Dalvik Virtual Machine over a Linux foundation; the applications themselves are written in Java, compiled to byte-code and translated into a single Android package for Dalvik. While Android includes a majority of the common java packages, these are accompanied by its own hierarchy. This is also true for the crucial areas of telephony and network communications, and the 2D and 3D graphics.

Oracle’s contention, explains Singh is that Dalvik is a competitor to Java and infringes several of its patents. “This is expected to be fiercely competed by Google which will claim its efforts on Dalvik are from the ground up,” says Singh.

There has been no response from Google as of now, but if Oracle is successful in getting an injunction to prevent Google from building and distributing Android, it could prove to be a major setback for Google. Singh agrees that Google will then have to shift to other languages supported within Android. “This however will depend upon whether Google infringed upon one or more parts of seven different patents as Oracle claims, but considering how well Java is entrenched into Android it will be a major setback nevertheless,” he added.

Whatever the reasons for Oracle’s decision, it has clearly sent out a message that it will not stand any violation of Java, which the company describes as ‘the single most important software asset’ they have.