Developers working on OpenJDK Android platform - Google

With evidence stacking against Google in the Java lawsuit filed against it by Oracle, a group of open source developers have taken the matter into their own hands and have begun development of an alternative Java code that Android could use.

If Google loses its case, it could be prevented from using Java in Android, which would require a complete rewrite from the bottom up. It could also be forced to pay damages to Oracle and hefty licence fees if it wants to continue using its code, which was acquired through the buyout of Sun Microsystems.

In anticipation of this fate, some open source developers have started working on a reworked Java Virtual Machine based on the OpenJDK platform, which is open source with a General Public License v2. Currently Android is based on the Apache Harmony implementation of Java, which Oracle is contesting in court.

“By integrating Java code available on GPLv2 terms they hope to be safe from legal attacks on Oracle's part, but this depends on what exactly they do and how the implicit patent license contained in the GPLv2 would apply,” said Florian Mueller, an intellectual property expert. “The more they modify the OpenJDK code, the less likely they are to be covered by that implicit patent license.”

The move will also see the developers create their own version of Android, based on the new code, but as suggested above, they could find themselves in legal hot water if they modify the code too far away from the original OpenJDK, which may be necessary to replicate the features in Android.

Google has not yet lost its battle in court, but it appears that at least some developers are preparing for the worst. Whether or not Google decides to pay licence fees to use the Oracle code or try out the OpenJDK alternative remains to be seen.