Oracle has filed legal papers against Google, arguing that the Android operating system infringes on some of its patents.
At issue is the use of Java, which Oracle claims is present in Android without proper attention being paid to intellectual property rights. Oracle gained ownership of Java after acquiring Sun Microsystems last year.
Legal papers filed last night state that Google "knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle's Java-related intellectual property" when developing Android, and that the lawsuit "seeks appropriate remedies".
Florian Mueller, founder of the NoSoftwarePatents campaign, warned that the suit raises serious questions about software patents. "I consider this a patent attack on free software and open source," he said in a blog post.
Mueller suggested that Oracle had taken an aggressive stance against Google, and had not offered the firm an opportunity to license the technology on friendlier terms.
"I've read the document Oracle filed with the court, and Oracle's succinct press release. There isn't any indication that Oracle offered Google a licence deal on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms," he said.
"Since Oracle doesn't claim to have made a good-faith intent to resolve the issue amicably, it's certainly possible (unless information to the contrary surfaces later) that this is a hostile, aggressive and destructive move on Oracle's part."
The resolution of the case could be key for the wider Android ecosystem. Mueller explained that should Google choose to settle with Oracle on the issue, it would limit opportunities for other developers working with open source technology.
"It would be very disappointing to see Google settle its dispute with Oracle on a basis that would take care only of Google but not of the wider Android ecosystem, including but not limited to the makers of Android-based phones," he said.
Mueller suggested that such a case was always on the cards, and that he first had concerns when Oracle purchased Sun Microsystems.
Although he chose to keep quiet on his concerns about Java at the time, choosing to focus his attention on the future of MySQL, they were always there and have now apparently been validated.
"It was part of Oracle's and Sun's communication strategy to tell community leaders that the deal was in the community's interest because Sun owned so many patents that others (in some cases suggesting Microsoft although they never made a bid for Sun) might be able to use against free and open source software," he said.
"They said that Oracle was a reasonable patent holder and wouldn't harm open source."
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