Google this morning asked a court to dismiss Oracle’s patent suit alleging the Android operating system violates Oracle’s newly acquired patents and copyrights for Java.
In an answer filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California, Google asserted that Google and its Android partners have not violated any of the seven alleged patents related to Java, which Oracle obtained after it bought Sun Microsystems. Google said the patents in question have been dedicated to public use and Android, while it utilizes Java, was created independently and uses its own Dalvik virtual machine.
Google asked that the patents be declared invalid. A hearing has been set for Nov. 18 to evaluate Google’s request to dismiss the copyright claim.
“It’s disappointing that after years of supporting open source, Oracle turned around to attack not just Android, but the entire open source Java community with vague software patent claims,” a Google spokesperson said in an email statement.
The case is going to be an important test for Android in particular and open-source software in general. At issue is whether Android is distinct from Java and whether other open-source projects written with Java will be affected as well.
Android has been touted as a free platform that’s open to development by any member of the Open Handset Alliance. Google asserts that its open-source approach to Android has helped fuel its success to the point that it is being activated on 200,000 phones daily. That success may in fact be why Oracle has attacked Android. Mobile is where the heat is in technology today and Oracle would like a piece of the action, it seems. Many have suggested that Oracle was sold on the purchase of Sun partly by the case it could mount against Google for its implementation of Android.
The question of how free Android is becoming an open debate. Microsoft sued Motorola last week over its use of Android, claiming patent infringement, and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently disputed the notion that Android is free because of patent fees associated with its use. HTC also previously signed a patent licensing deal with Microsoft for its use of Android.
In its reply, Google tries to point out the hypocrisy of Oracle, saying the software company actually pushed for broader use of Java without restrictions in 2007. In February 2009, Oracle again pushed Sun to full open-source Java and not use its position to restrict Java implementations. That was all, of course, before Oracle bought Sun and Java.
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