Is Larry Ellison feeling a little feisty?

Two days after his withering letter to Hewlett-Packard's (HPQ) board of directors basically calling them idiots for pushing out Mark Hurd as CEO, Ellison's giant software company Oracle (ORCL) has picked a fight with another of Silicon Valley's most powerful companies: Google (GOOG).

On Thursday, Oracle sued Google in the U.S. District Court for Northern California alleging that Google's Android mobile operating system infringes patents associated with Oracle's Java programming platform. Java is used to write software for devices ranging from smartphones to high-end computer servers.

"In developing Android, Google knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle's Java-related intellectual property. This lawsuit seeks appropriate remedies for their infringement," Oracle spokesperson Karen Tillman said in a statement. (Complaint embedded below.)

Oracle Signals Tough Stance on Java

Ironically, Google CEO Eric Schmidt was instrumental in developing Java for Sun Microsystems when he worked there in the 1980s and early 1990s. Earlier this year, Oracle bought for Sun $7.4 billion -- and with it, the intellectual property behind Java, which is, in fact, used in Android software development.

"I think this showcases a new tougher era for Java and this is something that Google likely should have anticipated because Oracle is aggressive about protecting its patents," says Silicon Valley-based tech analyst Rob Enderle. "It also suggests that any other company that is using this stuff without a license is likely to get a call from Larry's lawyers."

The lawsuit is a direct threat to Google's Android mobile operating system, which is growing like wildfire. The company says that 200,000 Android-equipped phones are sold each day, recently surpassing Apple's (AAPL) iPhone by sheer volume.

Clash of Tech Titans

The conflict could shape up to be a massive battle between two of Silicon Valley's richest and most powerful companies. Google, of course, is a $120 billion behemoth that just spent $100 million to defend itself against Viacom -- a case which continues. And the search giant is sitting on a cash hoard of $26.4 billion.

Oracle is a $115 billion company with cash reserves of $10 billion. And Ellison, of course, is one of the richest men in the world, personally worth about $30 billion, give or take a few billion. Needless to say, both sides can afford a protracted legal battle.

On the other hand, it's entirely possible that the case could be settled out of court -- and if Oracle's claims are strong, Google may be forced to pay a non-trivial amount.

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

Here's a copy of the complaint, via CNET.
Oracle's complaint against Google for Java patent infringement

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Hi Thanks for the article. You and your readers might be interested in an upcoming webinar: Will Oracle’s Java Patents Take Down Google's Android Platform? The webinar will look under the hood of the patents and give registrants a deeper understanding of how strong they are. Check out to learn more and register.

September 02 2010 at 8:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Leon Stark

Wait a minute! Isn't the Sun/Java programming language supposed to be open source? If it is, and Google wants to use it for an Enterprise purpose, shouldn't it be their right? Maybe the offer of a small licensing fee for some of the extensions and expansions of core-classes be appropriate for the privilege?

I think Oracle is trying to buy up all the open-source options they can to monetize them and turn them into corporate profit to compete with Microsoft, IBM, and Apple. That should be a consideration in any suit like this. Suck the life out of the Internet and then charge the unwitting and unwilling for the privilege of using THEIR Internet.

Java was open source when Google was developing "Android", and should remain so.

August 16 2010 at 9:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Obama spoke from the golf course today and places ALL the blame on the Republicans

August 16 2010 at 1:45 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Yawn. Who cares?

August 15 2010 at 2:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Obama blamed it all on Bush

August 14 2010 at 10:02 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Per Lloyd's comment...yes and no....How does anyone completely forget/ignore all that one works with/for and develops in the course of employment??? And how was Eric to know that ORACLE would sometime in the future buy SUN/JAVA ? He couldn't, otherwise it would be insider trading or somesuch....
Larry should suck it up and move fact, he and ORACLE would do themselves a favor and court GOOGLE not fight it...the upcoming trends will make them both even more money, and probably provide a much better product for "...We the People..."..we as a Nation need to get off this foolish sue sue sue bandwagon we are currently riding..Dave

August 14 2010 at 6:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to djsj21643's comment
Leon Stark

Java was "open-source" when the Google developers started developing "Android", "Google Chrome" browser and the "Google Chrome" operating system. Oracle should suck up to the fact. You are right that the two companies should form a strategic alliance, not joining their companies, but agreeing on certain ways to improve their advantages between themselves. Maybe a web-hosting consortium that leverages their own advantages, and sharing the profit for it.

August 16 2010 at 9:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

the yellow lobster died too bad so sad

August 14 2010 at 6:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

first, whoo-hoo!! typical, all of silicon valley was built on intellectual theft. this should be intersting to see where it goes.

August 13 2010 at 9:59 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jbumonkey's comment

Please explain your claim that all of Silicon Valley was built on intellectual theft. The founder of Google worked for Sun where he was paid for his work. Sun owned the product. Oracle bought Sun so it now owns Java. If Google is in fact using Java without paying appropriate and negotiated licensing then Google is in fact the thief.

August 13 2010 at 11:52 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply