The litigation battle between Google and Oracle continues to heat up. The search giant fired the latest volley with a filing that outlines twenty separate defenses against Oracle's claim that Google's Android mobile platform infringes intellectual property that Oracle obtained from Sun. Google argues that no infringement has transpired, and that it isn't responsible even if evidence of actual infringement is found.
This dispute erupted in August when Oracle sued Google over its use of the Java programming language in Android, even though Java is ostensibly an open language and Google uses its own clean-room implementation. Oracle grants a license to the necessary intellectual property to developers who can demonstrate their Java implementations conform with Java standards. Oracle has, however, refused to provide the requisite compatibility test suite under terms that are acceptable to third-party Java implementors—including the Harmony project, which Google relies on for its Java library stack.
This issue has become deeply controversial, because policies of the Java Community Process—with which Oracle is contractually obligated to comply—require the company to supply the Java test suites under terms that don't preclude third-party open source implementations. Oracle's actions are actively undermining the pretense that Java is an open language. On the other hand, critics of Android point out that Android's unapologetic deviation from Java standards threatens to fragment the language.
Google's latest filing reiterates the company's contention that the patents at the center of the dispute are invalid, unenforceable, and not applicable to Android. Google has also weighed in on Oracle's more recent claim that Android's Java code infringes on Oracle's copyrights in addition to patents.
Google argues that any code in Android that appears to be copied from Java doesn't constitute infringement because it is too simplistic to be protected by copyright and would be permissible to use under the terms of fair use. Google also oddly claims that it isn't at fault if there is any infringement going on, because the infringing code (that ostensibly doesn't exist and isn't actually entitled to copyright protection) must have been implemented by a third party.
This grab bag of seemingly contradictory defenses suggests that Google is throwing everything at the wall to see what will stick—a common tactic in legal disputes. Google also argues that Oracle's entire parade of allegations is invalid because the past conduct of Oracle and Sun—namely, Sun's permissive attitude towards Android and Oracle's endorsement of open source Java implementations prior to acquiring Sun—constitute an implied license. Google argues that Oracle has "unclean hands" due to the company's rejection of the Harmony project's petition for access to the Java compatibility suite.
It seems unlikely that the conflict between Oracle and Google will be settled amicably in the near future. If it continues to escalate on its current trajectory, the outcome could have significant implications for the future of both Java and Android. If push comes to shove, Google could start looking at other language options.
Source: ars technica