Oracle’s Big Google Win Over Java Copying

The long-running, $9 billion copyright dispute between Oracle and Google over use of Oracle-owned Java programming in Google’s Android smartphones has been revived by a federal appeals court.

The lawsuit goes back to U.S. District Judge William Alsup for a trial on the issue of damages against Google.  This is the third round for this copyright case, which began in 2010.

“Google’s copying and use of this particular code was not fair,” the Federal Circuit Court of Appeal in Washington, DC, ruled Tuesday.

Oracle, which owns the Java application programming interface, or API, has pieces used in Google’s Android phones.

A San Francisco jury sided with Oracle in a 2012 verdict that found Google infringed Oracle’s copyrights to the Java platform. But jurors deadlocked on whether the Google copying was fair use.

Alsup then ruled the API packages were not copyrightable. The Federal Circuit reversed, holding Oracle’s APIs were protectable and sent it back to Alsup to consider Google’s fair-use defense. The US Supreme Court refused to take it up.

Then in 2016, Google won on its fair-use defense in a second trial. Google maintained it gives away Android software under an open-source license and thus its copying had a non-commercial purpose.

Oracle again appealed, arguing in part that Google’s purpose in using the Java API was purely commercial. The Federal Circuit agreed Tuesday and sent the case back for a third round to consider what damages Google should pay to Oracle.

Case: Oracle America v. Google, No. 2017-1118

 

 

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