Google did not violate Oracle's IP with Android, jury rules

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, News
26 May, 2016

Oracle still claims Google illegally copied Java technology and will appeal

Google did not commit intellectual property theft when it built Android, a jury has ruled.

The case is the latest in a series of court battles between Oracle and Google regarding the latter's use of Java APIs in the creation of the Android mobile operating system, which now has the largest install base of all mobile platforms.

While Google argued its use of the  APIs was covered by fair use, which permits the partial use of copyrighted material for "transformative" purposes, Oracle claimed the company had acted illegally, costing it billions of dollars in revenue and leading to a claim for $9.3 billion in damages.

This question has been resolved, for now at least, by today's federal court jury, which found Google's use of the Java APIs did indeed constitute fair use.

In a statement released immediately after the ruling, Oracle general counsel Dorian Daley 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 behaviour. We believe there are numerous grounds for appeal and we plan to bring this case back to the Federal Circuit on appeal."

Google had not released a statement at the time of publication.

18/05/2016: Oracle CEO blames Google for 98 per cent drop in revenues

Oracle CEO Safra Catz has blamed Google's use of Java APIs for massive drops in the company's revenue, a San Francisco court has heard.

The two companies are embroiled in a copyright dispute over Google's use of the Oracle-owned Java APIs in its Android operating system.

Google claims the APIs should be covered under fair use principles, while Oracle is demanding over $9 billion worth of damages for their unauthorised use.

By including Java APIs in Android and then freely distributing it to device manufacturers, Catz told the jury, Google massively undercut the license fees paid to Oracle by existing customers.

Samsung, for example, reduced its license payments down from $40 million to just $1 million, constituting a drop of 97.5 per cent.

According to Catz, Oracle was compelled to offer a similarly precipitous discount to Amazon during development of the Kindle Paperwhite, after it began using Android for its Fire tablets.

Catz even claimed that Google acknowledged it was breaking the rules. She spoke of an alleged conversation with Google's lawyer Kent Walker at an event in 2012.

"Google is a really special company," Walker allegedly said, "and the old rules don't apply to us."

"Thou shalt not steal," Catz is said to have replied, "It's an oldie but it's a goodie".

Not to be outdone, Google has itself claimed that Oracle is only pursuing the case because it cannot compete in the marketplace. The company pointed to Oracle's abandoned device development project, which was shelved due to "very limited internal expertise".

29/03/2016: Oracle demands $9.3bn damages from Google in Java retrial

Oracle has demanded $9.3 billion in damages from Google to compensate for the use of Java in Android.

Oracle first sued Google in 2010, claiming the search giant infringed on its intellectual ownership of a number of Java APIs by including them in the Android operating system.

The case went to trial in 2012, but while Oracle scored a partial victory last year by successfully arguing that it can copyright code and the way it interfaces with other software, the jury could not reach a decision over whether Google's infringement of this copyright was covered under 'fair use'.

A new trial to resolve this issue is set to begin in a federal district court in San Francisco on 9 May, and Oracle court filings include a document put together by an expert hired by Oracle, putting damages at $9.3 billion (£6.5 billion).

Of that amount, $475 million are actual damages for alleged unauthorised usage of the APIs, while $8.8 billion is the amount of Google’s profits Oracle believes it is owed.

Google denies any wrongdoing regarding its use of the Java APIs, which is has claimed are covered by fair use. In a court filing last week, Google said the the 37 Java APIs it uses are “a fraction of a per cent of the code” that makes up the Android OS.

A pre-trial hearing before a judge is due on 27 April, ahead of the trial commencing.

Java, which is one of the most widely-used programming languages, has had security issues recently, with the discovery of a critical bug in the software leading Oracle to release a number of patches last month.