Google’s mobile operating system Android has been in the headlines recently, and not for what new innovative features are due to arrive in the next version dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich or because of a new highly popular app. Because of Google’s lack of patents in the mobile industry, companies who opt to use Android to make smartphones and tablets have been entering into licensing agreements with Microsoft as to avoid any litigation. Many are wondering why Microsoft isn’t going after Google directly, and some have even suggested that a potential new business model for Microsoft would be to earn a few dollars from every device sold running Android. Anyway, there’s another big company feuding with the world’s most popular search engine company, and that’s Oracle. After purchasing Sun Microsystems in January 2010, Oracle also gained all the patents around Java. Now while Google doesn’t directly use Java, instead opting to call their Android specific programming language Dalvik, it’s widely acknowledged, at least by programmers, that Dalvik was essentially created to avoid paying licencing fees to Oracle. This is why Google is expected to enter a world of pain on July 21st when their court hearing with Oracle is due to take place.
Judge William Alsup has this to say on the matter: “In reading the Daubert briefing, it appears possible that early on Google recognized that it would infringe patents protecting at least part of Java, entered into negotiations with Sun [Microsystems] to obtain a license for use in Android, then abandoned the negotiations as too expensive, and pushed home with Android without any license at all. How accurate is this scenario? Does Google acknowledge that Android infringes at least some of the claims if valid? If so, how should this affect the damages analysis? How should this affect the questions of willfulness and equitable relief? Counsel should be prepared to address these issues at the hearing.”
In short: Google will likely to be forced to get their checkbook out.