Third parties, not Google, would be liable for any Java copyright violations in the Android mobile OS, according to a filing the vendor made Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Oracle sued Google in August over a number of alleged Java patent and copyright violations in Android.
“Any use in the Android Platform of any protected elements of the works that are the subject of the Asserted Copyrights was made by third parties without the knowledge of Google, and Google is not liable for such use,” Google attorneys wrote in one of 20 defenses to Oracle’s amended complaint.
Another defense states that Android was “created independently and without reference to any works protected by the Asserted Copyrights.”
Elsewhere in the document, Google discusses the formation of the Open Handset Alliance, the coalition of vendors, including Google, that worked together to develop Android.
The filing also notes that Android can be freely downloaded and developers are free to modify the source code to suit their needs.
In addition, Google states that Oracle’s patent claims should be denied under the doctrine of misuse. “Oracle has come to the Court with unclean hands due to its practice of requiring licensees of its purportedly open software to pay for licenses to items not covered by Oracle’s alleged intellectual property in order to receive a license under Oracle’s alleged intellectual property.”
The open-source legal watchdog site Groklaw first flagged the passages in a blog post on Thursday.
“You can take this amended answer two ways — that it’s Google angling for a better settlement or that it’s Google looking to win the whole enchilada and free up Java for everyone. That last is why I think Oracle might consider settling,” wrote Groklaw’s Pamela Jones.
“If it started all this because of drooling over money from big, rich Google — a common affliction, I’ve noticed — then realizing it might have to sue the Open Handset Alliance or one of its members or even some individual programmer out there somewhere, well, it’s not as appealing a thought,” Jones added.
Overall, Google’s answer takes an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach, including seemingly contradictory defenses, such as that Android developers are in fact “licensed to use the Patents-in-Suit and the copyrights in the works that are the subject of the Asserted Copyrights.”
Barring a settlement, the case could go to trial next October, according to another document filed Wednesday.
A jury trial would start Oct. 31, according to a tentative case management order, which is scheduled to be discussed during a Nov. 18 hearing.
An Oracle spokeswoman declined comment Thursday. The Open Handset Alliance could not immediately be reached for comment.
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris’s e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com