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Court rules that Google owes Oracle for unfair use of Java in Android

Oracle logo
Oracle logo (Image credit: Android Central)

For nearly 8 years, Oracle and Google have gone back and forth in a lawsuit in which Google was accused of unfairly using Java for the development of Android. The two companies have had their fair share of wins and losses over the years, but now a federal court in California has settled things once and for all.

The court ruled that Google didn't have the proper rights to use Java to the extent that it did when creating Android, and as such, might have to pay up big time to Oracle. It's unclear how much Google owes, but during a trial in 2016, Oracle demanded $8.8 billion in damages.

Although Java is a free and open-source programming language, Oracle says that things change when it's used to power a physical device or to enhance a competing platform.

Java was originally developed by Sun Microsystems Inc. in 1995, but Sun was then purchased by Oracle in 2010 for $7.4 billion in January of that year. Eight months later, Oracle sued Google.

Speaking on the matter, Sun Microsystems co-founder, Scott McNealy, said —

[Java] is the foundation upon which our digital world is built. Google stole that foundation, used it to build Android, and destroyed Oracle's market in the process.

Google previously argued that it did no wrong seeing as how Java was made for desktops and Android was a mobile operating system, but as we can now see, that wasn't a good enough reason for the courts.

Do you think the court made the right decision? How much should Google be liable for? Sound off in the comments below.

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

44 Comments
  • Looks like Facebook is not alone with wrongdoing. Google needs to pay just a little bit of the billions its made with Android. Fair enough.
  • Android is free though.. Should Amazon be included in this lawsuit too then?
  • Just because it's free means it doesn't make any money come on! So youtube doesn't need to pay anything to youtubers since it's free! It time to pay Google after all the cacheen! cacheen!all these years, lol.
  • Yes. And every company that has ever sold an Android device. And maybe every company that has ever written an Android app. This /could/ be a really, really big deal. Or, it could disappear on appeal. And anything in between. We shall see.
  • Let's be clear.
    Android is not Java.
    Android is Linux and the GUI framework was based on Java.
  • Actually I think it's more like - Android's core is based on the Linux Kernel, but it's application layer is based around Java. Symantecs I know, but "based on" and "are" are two different things. And it's the how much is the app layer "based on Java" vs "is Java" that a chunk of this case has been fought on.
  • I thought Google was plucking a lot of the Java code out of the OS back on marshmallow? Although some of the bits of code I have seen still contain Java. $8B out of $800B market cap is not a lot though. 1%. Thing is they started using Java when it was not owned by Oracle.
  • They started moving from Java to ART in Lollipop already, I believe. But do note that Lollipop is 2015, and the lawsuit has been going since 2010. So why do you think they decided to make the move...? ;)
  • Semantics. The other one is a security company.
  • I doubt that we all have the facts available to make a sound judgement there, but I can only assume Google has the funds to be able to handle this fine. If it impacts further development or the design of Android going further, then we could have a larger problem at hand.
  • What do o get the feeling that Oracle bought Sun just for this purpose? If so, shouldn't Google be paying the original Sun team not Oracle? I know it doesn't work like that since this is basically the same as a patent troll. Whatever.
  • That's exactly why Oracle bought Sun. A Hawaiian island isn't cheap.
  • That happens all the time. Caldera bought SCO in order to sue other companies.
  • Google bought Motorola for...?
  • To be able to countersue or keep the patents for defense and settlements.
  • Sun had a ton of patents. Owned Solaris technologies, and were major players in a lot of markets. Java was a big thing in mobile app development back then. Both B.B. and WinMo supported J2Me apps. Sun also owned MySQL and other database software with good market share. The issue with Android is that they used it to destroy J2Me’s market. It was actually a lot more successful on mobile than consumer desktops. Googles Mappinbapps for mobile back then were J2Me, even. People are completely ignorant of how much of an IP treasure chest Sun Microsystems was... and how good some of their products were.
  • Dumb courts. Stupid decision.
  • Sounds like Google should have purchased Java back in 2010... Seeing how Google supposably owes more money to Java than Java is actually worth.
  • Google gave Java that worth though. Plus it is still used in a lot of everyday items.
  • Java is pretty de facto in enterprise. Google did not give Java that worth. Java is important because of enterprise and client/server app development, and was relevant in the consumer space for the purpose of mobile app development. Google basically replaced J2ME by using parts of Java and then giving Android away, undercutting Sun/Oracle’s business with their own product. You don’t seem very informed on this matter, honestly.
  • Samsung, LG, Sony, etc.: "Thanks for taking the hit, bruh."
  • Don't expect Google to pay to indemnify those guys.
  • A total sum of $1.00. Expect two more years of arguments for establishing the best was to properly account for total install base and price per install.
  • The new Microsoft.
  • Google gets sued too often. I'm sure Google isn't saintly but I doubt they are all that heinous either. I also doubt that all the rich and famous people that get hit by lawsuits claiming sexual misconduct are all guilty. Money can be a strong motivation for greedy people.
  • Exactly. Happens all the time
  • "a federal court in California has settled things once and for all." Once and for all? This will go before all active judges on the CA circuit or appealed to the Supreme Court. Google is not done yet unless Oracle's asking price comes way down.
  • Exactly. There's years to go on this, and final damages, if any, won't be anywhere near $8.8bil. I actually expect Google to eventually prevail.
  • They did once or twice before.
  • Oracle bought Sun Microsystems, with the intent to sue Google for a cut of the Android empire. Oracle is an evil opportunistic company with questionably maintained software.
  • Exactly. People wanting Google to get comeuppance here are siding with the greater evil....much greater evil.
  • Remember when Apple took the honors of killing Adobe's Flash in the blink of an eye? Oracle should be kissing Google's feet for choosing Java. Java could be dead and buried by now if it weren't for Google, especially considering that Chrome is used for 60% of worldwide web traffic. Google could have snapped their fingers and damned Java to hell, maybe it should.
  • You obviously don't work in IS for a sizeable company. Java is huge outside of Android. It powers a ton of enterprise applications. It certainly doesn't need Android for relevance.
  • You obviously don't see the larger implications. Oracle is free to start suing anyone that makes applications based off of it. All this will do is ensure an accelerated death of Java.
  • No. It means if you use their stuff, then maybe you should have compensated them. Pretty sure Google wasn’t happy when Microsoft developed their own YT app that cut off their revenue stream. Why is it not good for the goose, but AOK for the gander? Google is not special. They need to pay up.
  • "Pretty sure Google wasn’t happy when Microsoft developed their own YT app that cut off their revenue stream." Apples and oranges. Java was open-source from the beginning. Oracle has only prevailed because it got some dumb judge to rule that you can copyright APIs.
  • Java was open source from the beginning is a blatant falsehood. And not all java technologies were open sourced. Some legally couldn’t be. Not Apples and Oranges.
  • None of that has anything to do with what I wrote, but thanks anyway.
  • Sun thought they could make Java free - and open source, except for their mobile implementation. And they thought they'd make their money by licensing the CODE to phone makers. Google wanted Android to be free, so they write their own mobile Java code, that does not use Sun/Oracle's copyrighted property. An API spec is not code, and this one is free anyway. Yes, a stupid (or ideological, or bribable) judge may be to differ, but the entirety of the history of computer languages does not.
  • Allegedly, there are lines of the Sun/Oracle code that are in question. Any original code is not covered in this lawsuit if I am correct from like three years ago.
  • Oracle just patent trolling.
  • Oracle is becoming very greedy, they are now in the process of increasing the license of their Java kits for embedded devices from around $3 to around $40/$60. It is really nonsense, they want more money for Java than the price of the whole operating system.
  • Another patent troll, another pointless lawsuit against Google, Oracle should be kneeling down before Google and kissing their feet for Keeping Java alive all this will do is accelerate the demise of Java which thankfully Android doesn't rely on it that much anum, hopefully Google will see off Oracle in the courts, this isn't over by a long shot.
  • This will just be Apple v Samsung. Google will appeal the settlement, and will end up paying pennies on the dollar, or never paying at all.