Federal Jury Sides With Google Over Oracle In Android Java Patent Lawsuit


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Alphabet subsidiary Google notched a big legal win Thursday when a federal jury in San Francisco ruled it didn't infringe on Oracle's intellectual property when building the Android mobile operating system.

Oracle said it planned to appeal the jury's finding that Google didn't violate a copyright applying to the Java programming language and other patents owned by the Redwood City, Calif.-based software giant.

Oracle sought $9 billion in damages as part of the lawsuit it first filed in 2010.

[Related: Oracle Rejoices As Supreme Court Is Advised Not To Review Google Java Suit]

The jury agreed with Google's "fair use" argument for leveraging the Java programming language to build the world's most popular mobile device operating system without paying a fee to the software's owner.

As the case progressed through the court system over the past six years, it saw some wild swings.

A federal judge initially ruled that Java's APIs couldn't be copyrighted at all, absolving Google of any liability before the case was even presented to a jury. But a circuit judge reversed the lower court and sent the case back for trial.

Google later asked the Supreme Court to review the matter. The Obama administration, however, through a letter from the U.S. solicitor general, advised the nation's highest court to not intervene in the case.

"This is good, as it seems that Oracle was trying to put the genie back in the bottle," said Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global, a Google partner based in Westborough, Mass., of the jury's verdict.

Sun Microsystems, the developer of Java, released the programming language under a free software license in 2007. Oracle acquired Sun in 2010, and ever since "has been trying to monetize Java," Falcon said.

Simon Margolis, director of cloud platform at Los Angeles-based Google partner SADA Systems, told CRN the decision is not only a big win for Google, but also for the larger open-source community.

"This furthers the belief that building open systems with the ability for any developer to add, modify or use existing technology ultimately benefits the community as a whole," Margolis said.

The case divided the tech community.

Hewlett-Packard, Red Hat and Yahoo came out on Google's side, all petitioning the Supreme Court to review the case, saying it would be tougher for them to do business if APIs could be copyrighted.

Microsoft aligned itself with Oracle during earlier stages of the case, rejecting the idea that limits could be set on what aspects of software were acceptable to copyright.

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