The rise of the Android operating system caused a crash in Oracle's revenues from licensing Java, according to Oracle co-chief executive Safra Catz giving evidence in the latest intellectual property case between Oracle and Android creator Google.
Java licensees have opted for Android instead because the software's use of the Java APIs means that it can run Java apps without the need for Oracle's technology, according to Catz.
But they have also used it to beat discounts of as much as 97.5 per cent out of Oracle in licensing negotiations.
Catz claimed that Samsung reduced its Java licensing payments from about $40m to just $1m. "Samsung uses Android instead of taking a copy of our software," Catz claimed.
In the process, Samsung also forked the Java development community and weakened support for ‘official' Java.
Bloomberg probably described Catz's case best: "Google took a language designed to ‘write once, run anywhere' across different computing platforms and ‘forked', or split into two, Oracle's Java community of programmers.
"Google lifted and employed the code so that it would only run on Android, leading smartphone manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics, ZTE and Motorola to adopt that platform, which the search engine company offered for free, and to cease paying Java licensing fees to Oracle."
Less plausibly, Catz claimed that Amazon's decision to base its Kindle Fire tablet computer on Android, when it has used Java for its Kindle e-reader, also caused loss to Oracle.
Indeed, Catz claimed that Google used the threat of Android to beat down Oracle in licensing negotiations when it was developing its Paperwhite e-reader. According to Catz, Amazon was able to force a 97.5 per cent discount out of Oracle to persuade the firm to continue using Java over Android.
Until version 5.0, Android used the Dalvik virtual machine to run apps written in Java, taking advantage of the Java APIs. Oracle, though, claims that Google infringed its intellectual property in doing this, and that manufacturers adopting Android in preference to Oracle's own Java-based products caused licensing revenues to fall dramatically.
The case started in 2010 after Oracle acquired Java owner Sun Microsystems and tried to negotiate with Google over a Java licensing deal. Google claims that it does not need to license Java as the Java APIs that it uses are not subject to intellectual property laws.
The case first reached court in 2012, when the jury was unable to reach a verdict. It ruled that Google had infringed Oracle's intellectual property, but could not decide whether this amounted to 'fair use' or not. The trial judge later ruled that APIs were not subject to intellectual property controls.
The case could have implications for the intellectual property status of APIs, which had until then been considered not subject to copyright.
In the latest legal clash, Oracle is demanding up to $9.3bn in licensing fees and compensation from Google. Oracle maintains that Google has made $21bn in profit from Android and that its claim is therefore justified.
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