By Greg Mills
Android is turning out to be, as Steve Jobs likes to put it, “a bag of hurt,” Not only are all the Android handset makers fighting Apple in courts and import agencies around the world, Oracle has Google over the barrel for intentionally using patented Java without a license. The intentional part will likely cost Google a bundle as Oracle has found a “smoking gun” set of email proving that Google, at the highest levels, knew and intentionally used Java in the Android OS without a license.
That a company whose intellectual property is infringed can get money damages is well known. That remedy is by far the most common outcome since money is the end product most companies seek from their technology. Apple and Oracle may take the less traveled road and simply demand that the infringing companies cease and desist from further infringement in the future, while collecting damages from past infringement. (See http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2011/09/oracle-contradicts-google-on-damages.html .)
In the case of Apple, they simply want the Android market share for iPhone and iPad, not peanuts in the form of royalties on stolen iOS technology. Oracle has taken a similar track in its suit against Google/Android. Java is famous for the “write once, run anywhere” mantra. Oracle will argue that the fact that Java will run on any hardware, but that there is enough patented Java code in the Android OS to consider it non-complying Java software and counter to the goal of the patents holders business plan. They will argue for an injunction that will force a complete recompilation of the Android OS, this time without any stolen Java code in it.
The effect on such an injunction would amount to a train wreck situation for Android. Imagine all existing Android apps being broken and requiring a compilation to run on a new Android OS. Imagine the effect on the Android market should that recompilation also break Android hardware. Consumers would be very upset having to reload all the Android apps they have stolen over the years. Android hardware manufacturers and cellular networks would also be more than upset if suddenly Android handsets were made worthless or crippled due to a new Java-free Android OS.
The Samsung legal pot is boiling over, and we may well see more blood in the water in the coming weeks as Apple drags them over the coals. Samsung is threatening to get really angry, and I am sure Apple’s attorneys are quite afraid. What part of the law regarding infringement of valid patents is hard to translate into Korean?
That is Greg’s Bite for today.