Google’s weak patent portfolio seems to be biting the company in its money filled posterior, with its hugely successful Android operating system coming under fire from Apple, and now Oracle after stumbling upon a damaging email.
Oracle is making claims that Google’s Android platform infringes several of the company’s Java patents.
Java technology is “the global standard for developing and delivering mobile applications, games, web-based content and enterprise software” according to Oracle. The software was (and still is) the foundation of feature phone apps, such as ‘Facebook for Everyphone’ using it to operate.
A damaging email procured by Oracle and composed by a Google employee recognises an alternative to Java should be thoroughly considered, reports the registar UK.
The employee, Tim Lindholm penned “What we’ve actually been asked to do (by Larry and Sergey) is to investigate what technical alternatives exist to Java for Android and Chrome. We’ve been over a bunch of these, and think they all suck. We conclude that we need to negotiate a license for Java under the terms we need.”
Google claim the email, which never had a recipient appended and was saved in drafts, was to be sent to its attorneys, protecting the document under client-attorney privileges and making it inadmissible in court.
Oracle happily point out that the email kicks off with “Hi Andy”, pointing out it is a “reference to Andy Rubin, the business executive in charge of Android.” If so, then Google will be in a compromised position as the email will stand in court.
With a Google employee recognising a negotiation between Google and Java needs to take place, it feels like the net giant has been caught with its pants down. Worse yet, this isn’t the first time Google have encountered friction when it comes to Oracle, with Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents pointing out an email sent by Andy Rubin five years back:
“If Sun doesn’t want to work with us, we have two options: 1) Abandon our work and adopt MSFT CLR VM and C# language – or – 2) Do Java anyway and defend our decision, perhaps making enemies along the way.”
Ultimately it will be up to a jury to determine whether or not Google infringed Oracle’s patented technology, but even if Google have the communications dismissed in court, can they really erase them from the minds of jurors?