Google strikes major blow in Oracle court battle over Java APIs

27 May 2016

Google has struck a major blow in the ongoing battle between itself and Oracle after a California court ruled in Google’s favour regarding the challenge that its use of Java in Android was a copyright infringement.

The current Google and Oracle courtroom battle has lasted two weeks, with the jury of 10 men and two women trying to determine whether Google’s use of Java APIs within its Android operating system was protected under fair use.

It was made clear quite recently in these parts that many software developers were falling on the side of Google in this case given the potential damaging ramifications of an Oracle court victory, and it’s not just the supposed $9.6bn it was looking for in damages.

This fair use policy has been at the core of how much of the software industry makes its money, with developers working under the presumption that an API by its definition would be free to use.

Java, which became an Oracle product following its acquisition of Sun Microsystems, it was argued by Oracle’s legal team, was used unfairly by Google, which copied segments of the Java API packages, all while Java’s business of licensing was struggling to reap in the finances.

‘They took the code, they copied it, and put it right into Android’

Now, however, according to Ars Technica, it has taken the jurors three days to come to a unanimous verdict that yes, Google was entitled to use Java APIs within the Android operating system.

This, despite Oracle’s claim that Google copied 11,500 lines of code, which it described as being an “undisputed” fact.

“They took the code, they copied it, and put it right into Android,” said its attorney, Peter Bicks.

In a statement on the courtroom victory, Google’s legal team simply said it was grateful for the jury’s verdict, but now it will have to face the reality of an appeal by Oracle.

“We strongly believe that Google developed Android by illegally copying core Java technology to rush into the mobile device market,” Oracle’s general counsel, Dorian Daley, said.

“Oracle brought this lawsuit to put a stop to Google’s illegal behaviour. We believe there are numerous grounds for appeal and we plan to bring this case back to the Federal Circuit on appeal.”

Court room image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic