ORACLE HAS thrown its cards firmly on the table concerning what it wants from Google in the Java dispute, and it's a lot: $9.3bn in damages.
The news is the latest chapter in the long-running tiff between the two companies over the use of Java code in the Android operating system, which Oracle has successfully, if bewilderingly, confirmed that it owns.
The argument runs that although Java is open source the APIs required to use it aren't. Android is perfectly entitled to use Java, but Google needs to pay Oracle a licence fee for doing so.
The strong arguments against this in the industry have been far-reaching as it sets a precedent that would wipe the premise of open source software off the map, at least as we know it today.
Notwithstanding this, however, Oracle has claimed that Android has "destroyed" the Java market, while Google maintains that APIs constitute "fair use". Google has won twice, and Oracle has successfully appealed twice, making way for the current action.
Oracle wants $475m damages and an $8.83bn profit share of Android from 2010 up to Lollipop. Marshmallow, the current version of the OS, is not included in the action.
Google has said that even if it is guilty, the code infringement of 37 APIs represents a tiny amount of the overall codebase and the figure it has in mind is more like $100m. But it will fight tooth and nail against it anyway.
A pre-trial hearing is set for 27 April and the trial itself will start on 9 May.
Google has already lost a battle to take the matter to the Supreme Court, despite feeling that judges in the earlier trial didn't understand the subject matter on which they had to rule.
As ever, there is no guarantee that whatever decision is made will be the final chapter and we can expect appeal and counter-appeal for some time to come before the law is actually clarified. µ
The INQUIRER's sister site Computing is holding an Enterprise Open Source Summit in London on 6th July. Attendance is free for qualifying end users. To register and for a full agenda, please see Computing's events website
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