The legal battle between Oracle and Google just keeps getting better and better. Google has answered Oracle’s amended complaint that Android infringed on Oracle’s Java patents with a wide-ranging defense that includes charges that Oracle doctored code to bolster its case against Google. Google argues that Oracle’s Java patents are invalid and have been misused. And if in fact Android infringes on Oracle’s patents, the blame rests with third-parties who are deploying Android, Google claims. Google seems to be throwing everything at Oracle’s suit in hopes of getting Oracle to settle or to win an outright victory.
The case began when Oracle sued Google over the Android operating system in August, saying the platform infringes on Java technology, which Oracle acquired when it purchased Sun Microsystems. Google claimed that the patents were dedicated to public use, and furthermore, Google’s implementation of Java was built independently and uses its own Dalvik virtual machine. Oracle countered with an amended complaint last month alleging that Google directly copied Oracle’s code. In Google’s latest answer, the company said Oracle creatively edited the code in question to look more damning.
“Google further denies that the document attached to Oracle’s Amended Complaint as Exhibit J contains a true and correct copy of a class file from either Android or “Oracle America’s Java.” Google states further that Oracle has redacted or deleted from the materials shown in Exhibit J both expressive material and copyright headers that appear in the actual materials, which are significant elements and features of the files in question,” wrote Google.
In its latest filing, Google also charges Oracle of misusing its patents by improperly forcing companies to license Java technology that wasn’t covered by Oracle’s intellectual property. And it said that its implementation of Java is legal both because Oracle’s patents are invalid and because Android was developed independently without reference to Oracle’s copyrights. For good measure, Google said that any copyright infringement is covered under fair use.
Perhaps most interesting is Google’s assertion that if any infringement occurred, it happened through third parties. Google mentions that Android was released in 2007 by the Open Handset Alliance, a collection of 78 companies. Google seems to be drawing in its partners into the battle, perhaps hoping that the combined heft of the group may prove daunting for Oracle to pursue. Or it could be throwing the OHA under the bus.
As we’ve mentioned before, this is an important test for Java, which underpins a lot of applications. A lot of eyes are on Oracle to see how it proceeds with Java now that it owns the technology. As Matt Asay pointed out, Oracle may not be motivated by a big immediate payoff from Google as much as it’s desire to keep companies from forking Java and doing an end run around Java ME. The bottom line is this is going to be an exciting case to watch, not just for the future of Java but the legal fireworks the two giants keep setting off.