Oracle vs Google: The 'he said, she said' and everything in between
The Oracle vs Google courtroom drama started in way back in 2010, a year after Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems and along with it the rights to Java patents.
The Oracle vs Google courtroom drama started in way back in 2010, a year after Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems and along with it the rights to Java patents. Oracle initially sued Google over its use of 37 Java APIs in its Android OS. In 2012, a jury in a District Court unanimously ruled in favour of Google, following which the case was sent up to an appeals court and was reversed and then appealed to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case. Somewhere along the way, Google also announced that it would drop the use of Oracle's Java APIs.
In the saga that continues, the tech titans are back, fighting it out again in a US District Court. This time the bone of contention is the 'fair use'. The debate rages on between the two whether Google's coding of Android falls under fair use of Oracle's property. Oracle stands to gain $9 billion from Google if the court rules in their favour.
Based on tech website Ars Technica’s coverage of the trial from the courtroom, we chart out the basic arguments that both the sides are making.
Here’s are some points that Oracle lawyer Peter Bicks made:
- 37 Java APIs used in Android OS
- 3 billion phones activated with Oracle's property on them. Google roped in $42 billion in revenue with Oracle property - valueable company code.
- Google internal emails share that company deliberately chose not to take a license and copied software illegally. Internal emails say that alternatives to using Java 'all suck'.
- 11,000 lines of code stolen by Google, which they(Google) would claim are not a lot. To put this into perspective, it took 10,000 lines to power this Apollo computer module, when lives were at stake
- Android severely damaged Java phone sales. Android undermined Oracle's Java business.
-Google definitely isn’t going to take this lying down. Google lawyer Robert Van Nest delivered an equally spirited defense to Oracle's accusations.
- Android was no shortcut - it was built with sweat and hard work over several years and hundreds of millions of dollars using Google know-how.
- Java language was open and free to use - a gift from creator Sun Microsystems.
- Copyrighted APIs were a tiny part of the language. The 11,000 lines of code they represent are "less than one-tenth of one percent" of the 15 million lines of Android code.
- Google used APIs from Java 2 Standard Edition, made for desktops, and combined them with 130 Android API packages to make a mobile operating system and That's the software that runs the smartphone—the full stack, the whole thing.
- Java's mobile edition was too weak to support smartphones - Android and Google had simply succeeded at a task where Oracle and Sun had failed: to build a robust operating system that could power modern smartphones. Internal documents contain statements like "Our mobile java strategy is failing", another complains of "very limited internal expertise to make smart decisions" in the mobile space.
- Ellison figured out that he couldn't use Java to build a smartphone, and it was too late to partner with Google. That's when this claim first arose. That's when this lawsuit started.
- Sun and its then-CEO Jonathan Schwartz never objected to Google's use of Java or the APIs—and in fact celebrated them. Schwartz was a witness supporting Google during the 2012 trial
Incidentally Schwartz also took to the stand to testify. He still maintained the fact he supported the whole idea of Java and its API being open and free to use by anyone. Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz delivered a feisty testimony though. While she shared that Oracle did not buy Sun with the intention to sue Google at some point, she made it very clear how much Oracle’s revenue suffered because of 'Google’s misuse of Java'. Catz said the decision by Google to distribute Android for free to phone manufacturers like Samsung undercut traditional licensing revenue those manufacturers paid for Java. “It had a very negative impact,” Catz said. Samsung, for instance, reduced payments from about $40 million to about $1 million, Catz said.
Amazon had traditionally used Java to develop its Kindle reader, Catz said, but switched to Android for the Fire. When Amazon was developing a new reader, the Paperwhite, Catz said Oracle was forced to offer a 97.5 percent discount to entice Amazon to use Java.
While Google is still portraying itself to be the true innovator and claiming that Oracle took to court only because it didn’t succeed in market, the latter could end up looking like a victim and the jury might just be tempted to swing in their favour.
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