Google Admits Android Copied Java, Gives Oracle Ammo

Google Admits Android Copied Java, Gives Oracle Ammo

A Google engineer admitted he copied parts of Java while developing Android, a startling admission that gives Oracle ammunition in its courtroom battle with the Internet giant.

In a deposition, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company’s engineer Joshua Bloch, a former Sun employee, commented on nine lines of Android code that was identical to Sun code.

“I’m perfectly willing to believe that I did (copy the code),” Bloch said. “I think the similarity of the signature, the fact that the three arguments are in the same order and have the same name, is a strong indication… that I did.”

The admission about Sun’s code may directly affect how the Oracle-Google lawsuit proceeds, and may give weight to Oracle’s initial claims that Google violated copyright and patent laws while developing the Android OS code.

It may also force Google into agreeing into settling with Oracle, which would benefit both companies. Oracle may benefit through licensing agreements for its code, and Google would avoid a costly, long court battle.

Meanwhile, the document about Motorola may be troublesome for Google’s plans for its new acquisition, because rivals may interpret it to mean Google bought Motorola not for its patents, as claimed, but because it wants to go into making proprietary system handsets that may compete with other Android devices.

The document may cause further friction with smartphone makers already nervous about Google’s purchase of Motorola, leading them to believe Google may favor the company at the expense of other Android rivals, such as Samsung or HTC.

The document, one of many presented through the depositions, said in part, “Do not develop in the open. Instead, make source code available after innovation is complete. Give early access to the software partners who build and distribute devices to our specification. They get non-contractual time to market advantage, and in return they align to our standard.”

As the case moves closer to trial and more depositions are held, Google may well opt to settle with Oracle, rather than have more documents, such as the one about Motorola, come out in public. Google already faces several other legal challenges, such as ongoing antitrust cases with both the U.S. and South Korean governments, and a lengthy legal battle, rather than a quick settlement, could tie the search giant up in court for some time.

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