updated 07:45 pm EDT, Thu October 20, 2011
Oracle cleared for key evidence in Android lawsuit
Oracle obtained a key ruling Thursday after Judge William Alsup determined that it was allowed to use internal Google e-mail admitting patent problems in Android as evidence in its lawsuit over Java copyrights and patents. Alsup determined that Google had "failed to identify any aspect" of Oracle's demand that was either mistaken or illegal. Attorney-client privilege didn't cover the messages, he said.
In some of the messages, mobile VP and Android pioneer Andy Rubin pushed for a pre-buyout Sun to open-source Java in a way that would ultimately let Google use it for free. That didn't materialize, and Rubin communicated with Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin with the mutual knowledge that a full license might cost Google $100 million a year, a sum that Google never ended up paying.
Google had tried looking for an alternative to Java in Android for that reason but ultimately concluded that it needed the language for its mobile OS.
The admission could be potentially dangerous for Google. While it has indicated it would be willing to make a payment, it has been trying to avoid billions in payouts that it feels are excessive. Oracle, if it can persuade Alsup that the e-mail shows willful patent infringement, could make Google pay extra, whether for past use or for future per-device royalties.
Android is dependent on a Java-based just-in-time engine, Dalvik, to run its native apps. Redesigning Android to avoid Java would involve a fundamental change.