Oracle sues Google over Android

Two Silicon Valley heavyweights are about to reenact the Java wars: this time, in a court room.

Oracle issued a press release late Thursday saying it has filed suit against Google for infringing on copyrights and patents related to Java, which Oracle acquired along with Sun Microsystems earlier this year. The terse release claimed Google “knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle’s Java-related intellectual property…”

A Google representative said the company had not yet been served with the lawsuit, and therefore couldn’t comment until it had a chance to review it. An Oracle representative declined to comment beyond the complaint.

Back when Google first announced plans to develop Android in 2007, it immediately raised the blood pressure of Java developers at Sun. Google’s Java implementation is different than the one advocated by a Java standards group, which worried those tech industry veterans who remember the problems that Microsoft caused for Java by following a similar path on Windows.

Of course, Java has been forked and fragmented many times over the years, destroying the “write once run anywhere” promise of the technology with different implementations on different computing platforms. Still, Oracle, on behalf of Sun, is arguing that Java is a mobile operating system competitor against Android, and that Google is using Java-derived technologies without a proper license.

Oracle also noted the interlocking history between Google and Java in its complaint, noting that “Google has been aware of Sun’s patent portfolio, including the patents at issue, since the middle of this decade, when Google hired certain former Sun Java engineers.” Google CEO Eric Schmidt led the team that developed Java at Sun prior to becoming CEO of Novell, and later Google in 2001. Urs Hölzle, senior vice president of operations and a Google Fellow, also played a significant role in Java’s development in the 1990s, and apparently other Sun engineers have joined Google in the intervening years.

Should have at least as many chuckles as the Microsoft/Java war – and I’ll bet Google will prove to be as stodgy and intractable as Microsoft over products that are bringing in the revenue potential of Android.

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