Recently Oracle and Alphabet Inc. subsidiary Google were found back in court last week, adding yet another chapter to the long-running saga of their conflict over Google’s use of Java in its Android operating system. In February, Oracle filed its appeal with the U.S. court of appeals for the federal circuit. In
In addition to this, there is a lot of stakes here, Oracle has already asked for $9 billion in damages. Here is a short summary of the long-running legal battle between the two companies:
- In 2010, Oracle sued Google claiming that in developing its Android mobile OS, the Internet search giant infringed on patents associated with the Java Platform, which Oracle acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems Inc.
- In 2012, a 10-person surgery serving in the Federal District Court in San Francisco ruled unanimously that Google had not infringed on Oracle's patents.
Later that year, the presiding judge, U.S. District Judge William Alsup (who learned to write Java code to better understand the case), also ruled that the 37 Java APIs were not subject to copyright.
- In May 2014, a federal appeals court overturned that ruling, declaring that the Java APIs were protected under U.S. copyright law.
Initially, the court found was the declaration code in Oracle's API packages, which Google copied verbatim, was copyrightable. Google developed the implementation code independently, so it wasn't
atissue. Further they found that the Oracle code had not been merged with the functions performed by the code; that combinations of shortcode phrases, such as those used in the APIs, can be copyrightable; and the fact that the code serves a function does not preclude its copyrightability if, the as the court put it, "the author had multiple ways to express the underlying idea" at the time of creation of the code.
As a result, in the same year, Google filed a petition with the Supreme Court, asking it to review and reverse the appeals court's decision. The high court decided not to review the case, returning it to the district court.
- And in May 2016, a jury ruled that Google’s use of the Java APIs was allowed under the "fair use" provisions of the federal copyright law, and therefore did not infringe on Oracle-owned copyrights.