Oracle has filed a lawsuit with a US court accusing Google of copyright and patent infringement in the Android mobile device platform, stating that the company “directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle’s Java-related intellectual property.” From the outset, Java has been an integral part of Android, and is used as a way to enable application development for Android for developers who do not want to write native software for the platform, providing it with access to a wider pool of potential programmers. Oracle, which gained a number of Java patents through its acquisition of Sun Microsystems, says it is seeking “appropriate remedies” for the infringements. Seven patents are involved in the case, which also includes the Android SDK and Dalvik virtual machine as well as the core platform.

There was a mixed response to the filing from industry observers, due largely to the complexities involved in the case. Some argued that rather than Oracle wanting a fully-fledged legal battle, it is more likely to be flexing its muscles to make a commercial licensing agreement seem a more appealing proposition to Google. The commercial model behind Android also provokes some interesting questions: Google makes very little revenue directly from the platform, which it offers on an open-source basis, and instead looks to generate revenue from increased use of its mobile services – making it difficult to calculate how much Oracle could receive in damages. It is also unclear how the case will affect device makers using Android, because many of these may already have licences with Oracle to cover the use of Java in products. The Wall Street Journal notes that while Sun held many patents for Java and licensed the technology to many parties, it has also offered open-source versions of the technology. Oracle has, in contrast, been more aggressive in leveraging its intellectual property.