Oracle has sued Google over the use of Java technology in the Android operating system. Oracle is seeking almost $9 billion in damages, or precisely $8.8 billion.
Why has Oracle sued Google over the use of Java technology?
Oracle claims that Google has improperly used pieces of the Java technology in Android without paying for the use. $8.8 billion, according to Oracle, is its share of the profit that Google has made off Android.
Google on the other hand argues that the way the company has used pieces of Java code constitutes “fair use”.
When Sun Microsystems develop Java, it was free and open source. You could use Java technology to build applications. There are even Java APIs that you can straightaway use. This is how Google is building up its defense.
Although later on Sun Microsystems was purchased by Oracle, Java technology and Java APIs have always been under fair use, Google claims.
Oracle says that although Java has always been open source, there are certain proprietary APIs that can be used under the “fair use” policy, but if you need to use them commercially, as is happening in the case of Android, then you owe Oracle money.
Eric Schmidt during the trial questioning said that Google built Android entirely on its own. He specifically said that the Google software programmers did a different implementation of Android without using the Java technology Sun Microsystems had developed.
According to Schmidt (source) Google programmers neither used Sun Microsystems’ “implementing code” nor they used the Java logo, which would have helped a lot in the initial stage of Android development.
If Google used the Java technology in Android as “fair use”, and if actually Java was free source when Sun Microsystems developed it and promoted it, what has changed now? Why has Oracle sued Google at this particular juncture for the use of Java technology?
Maybe the multi-billion-dollar popularity of the Android system? Although initially people at Oracle didn’t take Android seriously, now in terms of worldwide usage, it has easily overtaken iOS and other mobile operating systems.
There have been attempts at creating a Java mobile phone but it never caught on.
What if Oracle wins the case? Even if Google doesn’t have to pay the complete compensation of $8.8 billion, it would either have to change the source code and hence make other app developers to carry big changes in the way they develop their Android apps, or they may have to continuously pay the royalty fee to Oracle. This can turn out to be a big headache for Google.