Google tells court new Android versions with OpenJDK released last month

Google has released on Dec. 24 new versions of its Android platform that are licensed for use under a free, open source license provided by Oracle as part of its OpenJDK project, according to its filing in a federal court in California.

Google has released on Dec. 24 new versions of its Android platform that are licensed for use under a free, open source license provided by Oracle as part of its OpenJDK project, according to its filing in a federal court in California.

OpenJDK is an open source implementation of the Java Platform, Standard Edition. The court is looking into whether Google's use of Oracle's Java code in the Android mobile operating system can be seen as ‘fair use,’ which is a legal doctrine that permits copying under limited circumstances.

The code for the new versions has been made available on the Android Open Source Project repository but is still work-in-progress and will be part of future complete versions of Android, according to Google.

The focus of the lawsuit has narrowed down to 37 Java APIs (application programming interfaces) which were said to have been infringed by Google in Android.

Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco division ruled in 2012 that the APIs were not copyrightable, but his decision was overturned in 2014 by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which ruled that the Java API packages can be copyrighted. Google then appealed to the Supreme Court, which referred the case back to the district court for a decision on whether Google’s use could be seen as fair use.

"Specifically, these newly-released versions of Android utilize the method headers (and the associated sequence, structure, and organization of those method headers) at issue in this litigation under the open source OpenJDK license from Oracle," Google's attorney wrote in the filing Monday.

By using the open source OpenJDK version of the Java language libraries, Google is apparently trying to reduce its damages going forward, if the court should decide that its use of the Java APIs does not qualify as fair use.

If Oracle continues to accuse the new versions of Android released on Dec. 24 in its own damages study, then the damages claim for the new versions licensed by Oracle under OpenJDK would require a separate analysis of damages from earlier releases, which are not licensed under OpenJDK, according to the filing.

Google said in a statement that in its upcoming release of Android, it plans to move Android's Java language libraries to an OpenJDK-based approach, creating a common code base for developers to build apps and services.

A Google spokesman did not immediately comment on whether the move to OpenJDK was linked to the court dispute. Oracle did not comment on the filing. 

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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