Oracle updates complaint against Google to highlight Android's success

Oracle has included six news versions of Android and new products and services built around the operating system in a proposed supplemental complaint in its dispute over Google’s use in the OS of copyrighted Java material.

There are now over 1 billion active monthly Android users and more than 8,000 devices running versions of Android, according to the filing Thursday in a California court. The explosive growth of Android gives Google an expanded platform for advertising, which is its core revenue generator, it added. Oracle filed an amended complaint in 2010.

Android not only helps boost Google’s revenue from devices, which come with its search application both preinstalled and as the default engine in Chrome browsers, but also from other sources like the Google Play store from which the Internet giant gets a cut on purchases, according to the filing.

In contrast, as applications written for the Java platform do not run on the versions of Android made available since October 2010, the widely-popular Android has “irreversibly destroyed Java’s fundamental value proposition as a potential mobile device operating system by breaking the ‘write once, run anywhere’ principle on which Java was built,” according to Oracle.

Google’s failure and refusal to make Android compatible with the Java platform “has destroyed the potential value of a licensed derivative version of the Java platform in the mobile device market.”

With the new data, Oracle apparently hopes to boost the damages it is awarded for what it describes as direct and indirect infringement by Google, including by reproducing and distributing Android to hardware manufacturers and software developers. It also hopes to knock down Google’s argument that its use of the copyrighted material was ‘fair use,’ which is a legal doctrine that permits copying under limited circumstances.

The filing cited estimates that between 2011 and 2014, Android’s share of the mobile phone market has increased from nearly 40 percent to over 80 percent, while its share of the tablet market had increased from 20 percent in 2011 to nearly 70 percent in 2014.

Android will still not work without the 37 Java API (application programming interface) packages that are the focus of the lawsuit, Oracle said in the filing on Thursday.

Judge William Alsup of the District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco division ruled in 2012 that the APIs were not copyrightable, but this decision was overturned in May last year by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which ruled that the Java API packages can be copyrighted. Google thereafter appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court which refused to hear the case, and referred it back to the district court for a decision on whether Google’s use could be seen as fair use.

77 scientists, including Vinton “Vint” Cerf, Internet pioneer and Google’s chief Internet evangelist, and Ken Thompson, co-designer of the Unix operating system, submitted to the Supreme Court that the free and open use of the APIs has been both routine and essential in the computer industry since its beginning, and depended on the “sensible assumption” that APIs and other interfaces were not copyrightable.

The versions of Android proposed to be added in the supplemental complaint are Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, KitKat and Lollipop, which were released between December 2010 and November last year. The six releases named include about 40 major and minor releases of Android, according to the filing.

The motion also points to new areas of Android’s expansion including Android Wear for wearables, Android TV, Android Auto for the automotive sector, Android in the household appliances market and the Google Play digital storefront.

Interestingly, Google is said to have agreed not to oppose the filing of the supplemental complaint in the California court, if its request for the removal of two paragraphs from the original document was met, according to the attorney filing the motion. The paragraphs were removed.

Both Oracle and Google have proposed dates next spring for the jury trial.

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