An investigation conducted by Florian Mueller has shown that important Android phone producers were using allegedly copied code from Java. Source code distributions for Droid Pro and other Droid versions belonging to Motorola, Samsung’s Galaxy devices that include the Galaxy Tab and the Ally and Optimus devices from LG all incorporate at least a part of the code. According to Mueller, even if the above mentioned devices do not necessarily contain potentially patent violating code in the on-device version, their simple presence on the sites of the phone designers may be sufficient for causing legal troubles.
Other companies like Dell and HTC do not have the files in question. They have not probably been aware of the potential risk, but the omission is somehow unusual. The phone makers who have the code have probably been unaware too but could have supported Oracle’s legal complaint against Google without intending it.
Mueller went on to reject claims that Oracle’s code was attached strictly to test files which were not used for production purposes. He said that the code was general security code that could be used easily for production hardware. No matter how the code is being used or if it is being used elsewhere, its presence in an official context is enough for a judge to rule it as infringing.
The investigation could affect Google and help Oracle in its accusations of copying and could put some of the responsibility on phone manufacturers for illegal distribution of the code, but it is not certain that they could be legally held responsible for it. Google has not answered the accusations so far. it has however accused Oracle of false representation of the code for obtaining a better case.
If successful with its lawsuit, Oracle may push Google to pay royalties for using Java-related code in its Android 2.2 devices shipped or may force a change in the code in order to avoid legal consequences. It is known that Google is already dealing with patent challenges from Microsoft and Apple, following lawsuits against phone makers.