Android hurt by patent wars, could lose features

by Kristen Nicole

The gory battle between Google and Oracle may soon come to a close, as the CEOs of both companies will have a courtroom showdown today. It’s a battle of the Larry’s, as Google’s Larry Page and Oracle’s Larry Ellison were ordered to appear before a federal court magistrate in San Jose, California, for mediation. The hope is that the two sides can reach a settlement and deter this case from appearing before a jury, Bloomberg reports.

It’s been a year since Oracle first sued Google over its use of Java in the Android mobile platform, and things have gotten ugly since then. Google and Oracle have been tit-for-tat inside the courtroom and out, rattling each other over technicalities and drawing out some surprising details that have amassed over the course of Android’s young existence.

But as Android continues to make gains in every arena of the mobile industry, rivals strengthen against Google’s success. And companies like Oracle don’t necessarily want to destroy Android, but they certainly want their cut. The battle between Oracle and Google has raised questions around Android’s code and Google’s use of that code in order to propagate an open and free platform, leading some to wonder if Android is really free for its consumers.

The Guardian puts out a lengthy editorial on the matter this morning, comparing Android’s goals with its actual results. The article goes through several code sources used in Android, all of which highlights Google’s attitude towards software patents -- the company doesn’t believe in them and that belief system has landed Google knee deep in legal woes. The Guardian article concludes that Android is not wholly free in the computational sense, going on to note the recent media focus on patent wars:

During 20 years of campaigning for the abolition of software patents, we have warned such wars could happen. Software patents could force elimination of features from Android, or even make it unavailable.

There are countless concerns regarding Android’s software, its monetization and its effect on end users, and today’s shakedown is only the beginning of a war over who will control what aspects of the mobile industry. Android’s in a defensive position right now, looking to justify its actions leading up to its widespread success, and it’s all come down to patents.