Google wins Round One against Oracle

It looks like Google has won the first round on this one. Of the numerous lawsuits that have been spun around the smartphone industry, this was one of the largest in amount, $1 billion. It also is a lawsuit around the fundamentals of the Android ecosystem, the Virtual Machine. Almost all handsets use the JVM (Java Virtual Machine) created by Sun, which is now part of Oracle. But Google’s Android uses a different virtual machine to run applications which is known as the Dalvik Virtual Machine. So this was Google’s competing VM that would allow it to bypass the JVM. Did Google violate any copyrights during the process? This was one of the primary disputes in the case. Another one was the violation of copyrights in Java APIs used in Android.

The first round ended in Google’s favor. The jury decided Google only copied a small amount of code when creating Dalvik and the APIs were not elements subject to copyrights. Google had initially offered to pay Oracle $2.8 million. Google now demands $4 million for court costs. Oracle of course has decided to appeal immediately. The verdict that APIs cannot be copyrighted might be a blessing to the software industry but this case might not be over for Google.

Why this is not over yet.

Google had contended that Dalvik was a clean room implementation which means it was created independently and therefore clear of any license issues even though it shows the same performance. This might be hard to defend as people like Joshua Bloch who was an architect of the Sun Java platform were working on this after they moved to Google. If Oracle takes the next lawsuit at a different angle the outcome might be different, although not quite the $1 billion Oracle is demanding.

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