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Google: We Are Not Responsible Even If Android Infringes Java patents

Sometimes, the only way to fight a patent infringement lawsuit is to throw the book back to the lawyers and nitpick on every last detail in order to disclaim any form of responsibility. And this is exactly what Google has done. Apparently, the search giant is claiming that it is not their fault Android may contain code copied from Java, and that Oracle’s patents are invalid in this context. Way to go, Google.

A couple of months ago, we ran a short article describing Oracle’s issue with Google’s Android operating system, and that the former was threatening to sue for wilful violation of the patents it held on the Java programming language. At that point of time, it seemed that Oracle did not approve of Google using Harmony’a Java implementation instead of its own, a trait which it had undoubtedly inherited from Sun, which was relatively hostile towards the Harmony project right from the beginning.

However, recent developments have revealed that it is more than just Android’s usage of Harmony which has aroused Oracle’s ire. Apparently, the real issue now has to do with Google’s own Dalvik virtual machine, which Oracle claims is responsible for fragmenting the Java programming language. This is due to the fact that Dalvik does not align to standard Java libraries; instead, it is a clean-room, reverse-engineered  implementation of standard Java runtime which makes use of a subset of Harmony’s libraries. And it is the combination of both factors which had led Oracle to declare war on Android’s implementation of Java: Oracle contends that Android’s actions are responsible for fragmenting the supposedly cross-platform language.

However, Google is not about to take Oracle’s allegations lightly. In its defense, the search giant made it clear that Oracle was effectively undermining Java’s nature of an open language by purposely withholding open-source compatible test suites from independent developers of the Java programming language. This action has been widely seen as an act of bad faith by Oracle, and has led to the Apache Software Foundation threatening to withdraw from the Java Community Process. Furthermore, Google also claimed that Oracle once pushed for the release of such compatible test suites before it bought over Sun Microsystems, a fact which will make Oracle’s actions appear to be financially motivated.

In addition, Google insists that Dalvik and all its underlying components were developed independently from the official Java stack by third parties. As such, they should not be bound by the same legal restrictions found in the official Java implementation. In the event that any infringing code is found, it cannot be attacked because Google has no knowledge of the code used by the aforementioned third-parties, and that Google’s implementation falls within range of the ‘fair use’ defense.

However, it seems that Google is not about to stop short of defending its code on technicalities. In what must be one of its boldest allegations ever, the search giant is accusing Oracle of deliberately scrubbing out key headers or messages within its code to make it look as though Dalvik was nothing more than a carbon copy of the Java virtual machine.

Needless to say, this dispute between Oracle and Google is only going to get uglier as the mudslinging continues in the following months until the court case is finally heard in October next year. But based on Oracle’s past actions of burning bridges with the free and open-source developer community, it seems that Google might want to start searching around for a new language to use with Android. You know, as a ‘just-in-case’ measure.

Reference: TopNews UK

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