Google’s trial against Oracle, who is suing over patent infringement regarding the use of Java in building the Android OS, finally commenced yesterday – 18 months after Oracle’s initial complaint, with Oracle submitting its opening statements.
While the main point of contention is whether or not Google violated any copyrights, the trial will be more about whether or not Oracle can to get a jury to agree that some portions of its Java APIs (application programming interfaces) can be classified as created works of art, and thus protected. The outcome of the trial could set a precedent regarding software developers’ use of open-source content.
While both companies insist that Java is indeed open-source and cannot be infringed upon, Oracle asserts that certain parts of Java’s APIs can be in effect stolen and manipulated. Oracle kicked off the trial by stating that Google knew from the beginning that they would need some sort of licensing deal while altering Java to accomodate the development of its Android. Google will likely counter with asserting that the APIs in question were open-source in the first place, which is likely the jist of their entire argument.
While Google offers its Android OS for free to software developers, Oracle is seeking to go after the ad revenue generated by content embedded within the platform, which could equate to hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. As I’d previously reported, the trial could transpire in three stages – copyright claims, patent claims and a third stage to asses any damages to be awarded to Oracle, if the company wins the first two segments. If the final stage is met, damages will depend on whether or not Oracle can prove that Google willfully violated any patents, which automatically triples fines. The Google/Android, Oracle/Java saga finally begins to unfold.