Google emerges victorious in the Google-Oracle Java lawsuit

Google has won the copyright infringement lawsuit case that has been going on for the past 6 years with Oracle appealing the case this year to the Federal District Courthouse of San Francisco that has been undergoing trial for the past couple of weeks. The case was brought by the database giant Oracle against IT giant Google over the use of Java Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) in the Android operating system for mobile devices. The lawsuit which has been rambling on for the last 6 years and 2 separate trials could have cost Google $9.3 billion if the case was ruled in favor of Oracle.

Today’s verdict that Android makes fair use of Java APIs represents a win for the Android ecosystem, for the Java programming community, and for software developers who rely on open and free programming languages to build innovative consumer products,” Google said in a statement.

Oracle has vowed that it appeal. Dorian Daley, Oracle’s general counsel said, “we strongly believe that Google developed Android by illegally copying core Java technology to rush into the mobile device market. Oracle brought this lawsuit to put a stop to Google’s illegal behavior. We believe there are numerous grounds for appeal and we plan to bring this case back to the Federal Circuit on appeal.”

Oracle first brought the intellectual property lawsuit against Google over the use of 37 Java APIs in 2010. A district court ruled in 2012 that the APIs cannot be copyrighted, but in 2013, an appeals court reversed that ruling. However, it failed to address the central issue of whether Google’s use of Java APIs in Android constituted fair use or not, which could have set a far-reaching legal precedent; hence the new trial this month, won by Google. During the latest trial, the jury found that although the APIs were copyrighted, Google’s implementation of them fell under the fair use doctrine of copyright law, meaning the company didn’t need to seek Oracle’s permission to use them.

They copied 11,500 lines of code,” Oracle attorney Peter Bicks said during closing arguments. “It’s undisputed. They took the code, they copied it, and put it right into Android.” Oracle argued that Google copied parts of Java API packages as well as related declaring code and labeled their actions as “shortcut at Oracle’s expense” and “stealing.” Google countered that the Java language has always been “free and open” to use and that included reimplementing Java APIs. Sun Microsystems and its CEO Jonathan Schwartz accepted Android as a legitimate, if inconvenient, competitive product. Google further argued that Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, was initially an Android fan but “changed his mind after he had tried to use Java to build his own smartphone and failed to do it.” The jury sided with Google: their use of Java APIs has been found to be “fair use.”

Eric Schmidt, one of the current chairman of Alphabet, Google’s parent company and former Sun Microsystems employee who worked with Sun at the time Java was being developed, testified that Sun developed and promoted Java APIs as “free and open” and not to be sold or licensed separately from Java. When Sun Microsystems was acquired by Oracle in 2010, the company filed for the lawsuit.

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