Home Government Technology Regulation Google out of sync with CEO Schmidt on Android earnings

Google out of sync with CEO Schmidt on Android earnings

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt is on the record as dismissing the importance of privacy.

Back in 2009, when Schmidt was asked during an interview whether people should share information with Google as if it were a "trusted friend", he responded, "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."

But when an Oracle attorney disclosed in court on January 14 that Google has made US$31 billion from its Android operating system, of which US$22 billion is profit, Google was quick to ask that the document revealing this fact should be sealed.

Annette Hurst, a lawyer representing Oracle in its long-running case against Google, also revealed that Google paid Apple US$1 billion in 2014 to keep its search bar on the iPhone, according to both Bloomberg and Reuters.

Google's lawyer Edward Bayley was quick to file a brief asking that this fact, too, be sealed.

Schmidt (pictured above) has not made any comment on this behaviour that is the exact opposite of what he has advocated. It looks like what is sauce for the goose is definitely not sauce for the gander.

Hurst was speaking in the US District Court in the Northern District of California, where the Google-Oracle case has now returned, before the same judge who was involved earlier on, Justice William Alsup.

According to the reports, Google has succeeded in placing under seal the documents that contain these facts.

In the original case, filed in 2010, Oracle had accused Google of copying Java application programming interface (API) designs into the APIs of its Android mobile operating system; basing Android class libraries on Java API designs; and copying from Java code into Android code.

It had also alleged that Google had violated its patents – seven were originally cited, but five were overturned before the trial, and only two were considered during the trial.

Google won this case. The trial began on April 16, 2012. In the first phase, the jury concluded that while Google was guilty of copyright violation, it could not decide whether this was covered by the principle of fair use or not.

The second phase of the trial, dealing with patents, went decisively in favour of Google, with the jury concluding that Oracle's patents were in no way violated. In the final phase of the trial, the presiding judge, Justice William Alsup ruled that APIs were not copyrightable.

Oracle did not take this lying down and appealed. In May 2014, an appeals court reversed the ruling, saying that Oracle could indeed copyright parts of Java. A three-judge panel ruled that APIs could be copyrighted, a finding in direct opposition to that which was rendered by Justice Alsup in June 2012.

Google then appealed this ruling to the Supreme Court. But that appeal was turned down and the case has returned to Justice Alsup's court.

Meanwhile, in a code commit late last year, Google has tried to build protection against similar future lawsuits by not using its implementation of Java application programming interfaces (APIs) in Android, and instead replacing them with code from OpenJDK, an open source version of Oracle’s Java Development Kit (JDK).

The website VentureBeat reported that Android N, the name for the new version, would use OpenJDK which is under the GNU General Public licence version 2. As is well known, while the GPL stipulates that any changes and derivative works must be open source, there is an exception for code which is linked. This allows Google to use OpenJDK in a proprietary system.


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.