Google is once again accused of copying other people’s code into Android. Purdue University sued Google over allegations that the company knowingly infringes a patent for detecting power management bugs in code. The internet giant reportedly saw a paper about Professor Y. Charlie Hu’s research on the subject in 2012 and incorporated related infringing code into Android Lint, an error detection tool in what would become the Android Studio development.
The USPTO granted the patent in August 2019. Purdue said it notified Google of the alleged infringement in August 2021, but that Google continued to incorporate the challenged code into Android Studio as recently as this month. The school seeks unspecified “past and future” damages from Google.
In a statement, Google told Engadget that it is still reviewing the lawsuit, but will “vigorously defend itself” and “independently develop[s]” products. We asked Purdue for comment, but the university has already told Reuters it believes Google is infringing on more patents and will add them to the lawsuit if the company doesn’t negotiate licenses.
School technology patent lawsuits are not new. Apple, for example, has more than once been asked to pay the University of Wisconsin for alleged violations. This case may be more serious than some, however. Android Studio is a staple of Android app development — if Purdue can prove a violation in the first place, it could argue that a significant part of Android’s app ecosystem is built around copied technology.
Purdue provided its full statement to Engadget. The university says it spent “weeks” trying to set up a meeting to discuss the patent dispute, but was forced to take legal action when Google “denied reasonable terms” for the encounter. The school is still open to a meeting to discuss licensing terms, but will add patents to the case if it doesn’t get a response.
You can read Purdue’s full statement below:
“It is the policy of the Purdue Research Foundation to protect intellectual property developed and patented by Purdue University faculty and researchers. Many innovations are supported by taxpayer-funded research grants and endowments, and the PRF is responsible for protecting these public investments from those who would infringe for private gain.
“The lawsuit against Google was filed after a year-long discovery investigation that found Google’s willful infringement of several PRF patents. PRF tried for weeks to arrange a meeting with Google, but when Google refused terms reasonable for a meeting, Purdue was left with no choice but to sue.
“RF is the assignee of several additional patents that Google infringes. Purdue has again invited Google to meet, view the evidence of infringement, and discuss the terms of the license. If Google continues to refuse to negotiate a license, the lawsuit will be amended to add patents.
“What happens next is entirely up to Google.”