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Oracle wins $1bn Java copyright claim against Google

US court sends shockwaves through the tech world by overturning original decision

Oracle has won its copyright infringement case against Google, after a US judge ruled that parts of the Java programming language could be subject to copyright.

Java was used to give core functionality to the Android operating system, but Oracle always maintained that Google did not ask for permission to use its APIs. 

The APIs Google is said to have used without permission relate to how an Android device connects to the internet, draws on-screen graphics and communicates with other devices.

"We conclude that a set of commands to instruct a computer to carry out desired operations may contain expression that is eligible for copyright protection," Federal Circuit Judge Kathleen O'Malley wrote.

In a statement after the verdict was delivered, Google said it was disappointed with the ruling as it sets a damaging precedent and that it was considering its legal options.

Two years ago, the US Court of Appeals ruled Oracle could claim copyright protection over certain programming interfaces, including Java, which is an integral part of Google's Android mobile platform. 

Oracle originally tried to claim Google's misuse of seven Java APIs in 2010, but the search giant argued Oracle couldn't claim copyright protection because the APIs is uses would be the equivalent of claiming a technique as intellectual property, which is not allowed. 

The case was re-ignited in 2012, when Oracle was giving the green-lit to persue Google for copyright infringement.

The Java programming language was developed by Sun Microsystems in the 1990s and the company allowed it to be freely available to developers, but charged a fee when it was used commercially. When Oracle acquired the company in 2010, it set about claiming its intellectual property and Google was one of the first companies on its hit list.

Oracle had support from Microsoft, NetApp and EMC, while Rackspace Hosting and the Application Developers Alliance are backing Google's arguments in the lawsuit.

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