On Monday, Google asked the US Supreme Court to intervene into the litigation against Oracle Corporation, arguing that the high court must act to protect high tech innovation. This concerns the case whereby Oracle sued Google in 2010, claiming that Android incorporated 37 Java APIs, or application program interfaces (this is a collection of routines, protocols and tools used when building applications, typically designed by the operating system and available for developers) into the Android world. At the time, a San Francisco federal judge decided that Oracle could not claim copyright protection on parts of Java but earlier this year, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington disagreed. Google’s statement says that without the original decision, Android would not have been able to innovate, “Early computer companies could have blocked vast amounts of technological development by claiming 95-year copyright monopolies over the basic building blocks of computer design and programming,” Google wrote.
Oracle’s beef with Google surrounds the fact that although Android is built around a LINUX kernel, written largely in C, the Android SDK (software development kit) uses the Java programming language as the basis for Android applications. Android doesnt use the Java virtual machine but Java code is used as an intermediate step. Android currently uses their own Dalvik virtual machine, which is to be replaced in Android L with the ART, Android RunTime. It’s been reported that Google and Java’s owners (originally Sun and later Oracle) discussed a licensing deal but no agreement was reached.
When Android was released as a beta in November 2007, Java was owned by Sun and their Chief Executive Officer said that Google had “strapped another set of rockets to the community’s momentum – and to the vision defining opportunity across our (and other) planets.” Oracle purchased Sun, and of course Java, in 2010 and has continued to develop the platform. We’ll see what happens: it seems that the Google Play Store owes some thanks to Java!