Google wins legal fight with Oracle, jury rules for fair use of Java in Android

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Oracle logo (Image credit: Android Central)

A jury has ruled for Google in its court fight against Oracle over the use of the company's Java API in Android. The jury agreed with Google's view that Android's use of Java was covered under the fair use clause.

CNBC posted the ruling on its Twitter feed:

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The verdict is just the latest chapter in the battle between the two tech company. Oracle first filed its lawsuit against Google in 2010, claiming that Android's use of Java violated its patents. In 2012, another jury ruled in favor of Google, but in 2014, a Federal Circuit appeals court decision ruled that the case go back to district court, claiming that Oracle did in fact have copyright protection of their Java APIs.

Sun Microsystems — the original authors and copyright holders of Java — had previously expressed reluctant approval of the way Android was using and implementing Java APIs, which essentially created a new and unique product. This is a practice many developers use with APIs, which are developed and designed to be able to reuse code as well as interface one software function or feature with another. After Oracle purchased Java from Sun Microsystems, Oracle had a different outlook on what had been done as well as the way it was done.

After the overturning of U.S. District Judge William Alsup's ruling that APIs can't be copyrighted, Google claimed that what they had done should be considered "fair use" and still legal under the ruling of the appellate court. Today's ruling supports Google claims, but this isn't over quite yet. Reporters on the scene say that Oracle is already preparing an appeal, and Dorian Daley, Oracle's general counsel, made the following statement:

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

While we await the outcome of any appeal process, developers can breathe a sigh of relief. While court decisions still find that APIs are subject to copyright, the first high-profile case supports fair use laws and allows the APIs to be used as intended. Had this case went the other way, much of the software we all use today would be subject to lawsuits and damage awards over code that has been reused by almost everyone since the 1970s. A different ruling might have hampered innovation across the board — not just with Android.

For now, things are almost back to normal. When the appeal process starts, we'll pay attention again.

43 Comments
  • Great news for Google!
  • Google should celebrate by buying all there employees a cup of coffee. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Microsoft and Dell should celebrate that their lobbying to keep the original verdict out of the supreme court didn't backfire, and this case allowed the copyright holders of AT&T Unix to sue them for every instance of MS DOS or Windows ever sold.
  • And I am sure that Google's lobbying helped get it get it there. Google lobby more than any other tech company. https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://www.thegua... Posted via the Android Central App
  • Would also have been schadenfreude to see IBM sue Oracle for their use of SQL and attempt to get all the profits ever made from it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Google employees can go down to the cafeteria and get coffee whenever they want, lol
  • It was more of a joke at the name java. Posted via the Android Central App
  • That went right over my head, haha
  • It's a bird, it's a plane, no, it's the joke flying 30,000 feet over your head! :D Haha in all fairness it went over mine as well hahaha Blackberry Priv
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  • That's exactly what I said Jerry! Posted via the Android Central App
  • ... Posted via the Android Central App
  • Hi Jerry. Those of us reading AC on the app can't see your post. I had to go to my desktop to see what you had posted. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Great to see sanity restored. Let's not have any more technically ignorant judges, m'kay?
  • You do realize that this jury is tech illiterate as well, right? S7 via the app
  • This is great now Android will not be changed in any bad way because if Oracle won it could have meant the collapse of Android Posted from my Moto X 2nd gen and my Nexus 9 both on Android Marshmallow
  • It goes far beyond that. While Google does a lot of things I don't like, I don;t want to see Android ruined. And that was a possibility. Along with every other operating system that uses the printf function or a derivative of it (for example) from the original Unix — which is every one still in use today.
  • How so? My understanding is they've already moved away from all 17 API libraries.
  • Google moved away from those 17 Oracle patents? Now I guess they can add them back in since they won the case Posted from my Moto X 2nd gen and my Nexus 9 both on Android Marshmallow
  • They moved to an open version of Java and said that it takes advantage of newer Java capabilities, so they have already put in the work. They supposedly didn't have to remove functionality to do it, so there isn't any incentive to move back.
  • That's the sound of the entire software universe (not just Google) breathing a sigh of relief
  • The jury were mostly Android users. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Okay, and? Oracle even dismissed potential jurors that knew anything about computers: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/05/jury-is-picked-for-9-billion-...
  • O actually didn't know that. My comment was just a smart-ass remark. But thanks... Cool Story Bro! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Ooh, that sounds dodgey. Blackberry Priv
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  • Interesting article- thanks for sharing it Posted on my Galaxy s5
  • Hallelujah is right. But speaking of sanity, I doubt Larry Ellison's done with the suit. Expect an appeal on lip-thwippin' grounds.
  • I'd like to think that this is a small victory for us little people as well. APIs should not be copywrighted. Breathe a sigh of relieve and crack open a cold one.
  • This is great for everyone who uses any kind of software. Posted via the Android Central App
  • What kind of settlement could oracle get considering Android is an open source and free? Posted via the Android Central App
  • A one time award of damages to Oracle's bottom line along with a fee for every device sold since 2010 running Android, as well as every device to be sold that uses these Java APIs or supports other software that uses these APIs. So, like Billions. Enough to buy a whole other island in Hawaii. Then you go after Google again for the developer tools. Then you go after the OEMs.
  • They were trying for $9 Billion Posted via the Android Central App
  • Good for google,and all.Glad to see it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • In hindsight, I don't think this court case would have happened under Sun Micro.
  • Nope. I wasn't there, but from what I understand Sun was open to the idea that free and open meant Google could use and adapt their work to better suit their needs even if they (Sun) didn't like it. Oracle is just being Oracle.
  • Thanks to each one of the juries to be fair!!
  • Wow. I never thought a jury of laymen would have half a clue, much less reach the right decision.
  • All hail the combatant from the blue team Victor leave the arena now and rest you've earned it Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • It's a great news not just for Google but to everyone who work in the software industry as well as its consumers.
    I hope one day SCOTUS annul the verdict by the appeal court that made API copyrightable.
  • Ellison won't stop until this hits the Supreme Court. Oh wait we only have eight judges now so that means there is no point in doing that. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Huzzah! Oh, and "Had this case went the other way..." "Went"? The word is "gone". Posted via the Android Central App
  • Oracle : what a bullshit company. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Praise the sun!