Google is one of the largest tech firms in the world. It’s a rule of thumb in the business world that the big you are, the bigger the target you are for lawsuits. The search engine giant is no different. Currently, Google is being sued by Oracle, the proprietor of the computer language Java, to the sum of one billion dollars. Oracle contends that Google’s mobile platform, Android, uses patented aspects of Java. Google contends that the aspects that they used are open source and therefore not subject to copyright law. It’s an interesting case, revolving around the linchpin of the nature of modern intellectual property law.
Former Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, testified that Java APIs were not subject to copyright since Google didn’t use the Java name in their products. The company Sun Microsystems, created Java and was then acquired by Oracle in 2010. However, Chairman Scott McNealy of Sun, claimed that Google did violate their patents. He also claimed that Google’s actions were hurting his company. It should be noted that in the five years that Google has released platform based phones no law suit was filed. It was only after Oracle bought Sun were motions filed.
This is an interesting case. Everyone from IT professionals to ice cream truck drivers will be indirectly affected. This lawsuit is more than two companies fighting over bits of codes. At the heart of the matter is a debate on how we treat and share data. We live in an age where data can be copied without a track. Data is as real as it is intangible.