Java Jury Sides with Google, Oracle Loses

Google won the long-running copyright battle with Oracle Thursday when a federal jury declared Google’s reworking of Java code in its Android operating system was “fair use” and not infringement of Oracle’s copyrights.

The two-week trial ended with the Google victory.  If jurors had found infringement they would have begun a trial on the damages phase to decide how much Google should pay, but that won’t be necessary now. This is the second trial over the Java dispute.

Oracle acquired rights to Java when it bought Sun Microsystems.  It then sued Google claiming copyright infringement for use of Java API packages and some software code in producing its Android operating system used in cellphones. (API stands for Application Programming Interface. These are the computer programming routines and tools used by programmers to build software.)

It is unclear how much Oracle might have sought as damages, although one of its experts suggested it could have been as much as $9 billion.

Oracle told jurors that Google had improperly copied 11,500 lines of code and put it into Android.

Google fought back saying Java language was “free and open” to use from its inception and that Google simply re-implemented some Java APIs.

The 10-member jury said unanimously that Google’s application of Java code was “fair use” and thus not infringement.

Oracle quickly indicated it will appeal the verdict to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeal, which handles copyright and patent appeals in Washington, D.C.

In 2012, a jury issued a mixed, though generally unfavorable verdict for Oracle. That jury found that Google had infringed a portion of Oracle’s copyrights but deadlocked on whether that infringement amounted to fair use.

Oracle pressed ahead to argue that it was not “fair use” in a second trial.

Case: Oracle v. Google, No. 10-3561WHA


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