Tech giants duke it out in the courtroom

Oracle and Google continue their legal battle as their respective CEOs issue testimony.  Did Google’s Android OS use code ripped off from Java, owned by Oracle?  Also, Samsung and Apple continue their feud.

Ah, San Francisco, home of the Giants, the sourdough bread bowl, and a huge tech IP litigation fiasco.  While we’re seeing fights all over the world, this particular fight is notable because of it’s contenders, Oracle and Google, and it’s subject, the alleged theft of Java technology.  Things started off with a bang, as Oracle brought out it’s CEO Larry Ellison, and Google countered with it’s own, Larry Page.

The stakes are high for this one; the future of the smartphone industry is up for grabs, plus an untold number of dollars in damages.  Oracle claims that they’ve lost about a billion dollars because of Google’s use of Java code.  Oracle came into Java when it acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010, and they’re alleging that Google used it to build certain parts of Android.  Naturally, Google denies this.

It’s not very clear cut, though, as Java is free, but still requires a license for use.

The fight opened early last week with testimony from a typically outspoken Ellison, noting that Google is the only company he knows of that doesn’t have a license for Java, and implying that Google made a “cheap knockoff.”  The Oracle legal team also pointed to emails between Google’s top execs, discussing whether or not they should get a Java license or continue on.

The Google team swung back, citing a speech Ellison gave saying that Oracle should be flattered that Android uses Java.  It looks like Google’s goal is to convince the court that Oracle is a smartphone industry washout, and that it would be easier to shake down Google for a share of Android profits than to develop their own OS or device.  Makes sense, considering that Ellison admitted that Oracle was considering buying RIM or Palm.

Google’s own Larry Page took to the stand as well, but with less bravado than the other Larry.  “I don’t know,” and “I don’t recall,” got thrown around a lot, and after staring at the ceiling so much, I imagine Page had quite the neck ache.

Like most IP trials between big businesses, this one will probably last a while; plus the money isn’t the only thing at stake.  If Oracle wins then the smartphone market is going to see some interesting changes, namely that Google might have to redo a good portion of Android to get rid of the code in question, or pay even more for a license.

Even if Oracle wins they may see some collateral damage, as sending the legal dogs of war after Google will make other businesses wary about using Java.  Of course, the message is clear, Oracle owns Java, and they like it that way, so unless you want to wind up in court you’ll have to play by their rules.

Written by Drew Hendricks

Drew Hendricks is an SEO and Social Media specialist living in Seattle, Washington. Drew writes words that people enjoy reading every moment they are awake.
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