Google vs. Oracle: Supreme Court To Hear Appeal In Copyright Suit

‘Developers should be able to create applications across platforms and not be locked into one company's software,’ a Google executive tells CRN.


With potentially billions of dollars on the line, the U.S. Supreme Court said Friday it will hear arguments in a long-running copyright case between tech giants Google and Oracle involving the Android mobile operating system.

The complex case pitting two Silicon Valley giants against each other has raged on since 2010, and already saw many twists and turns before a jury found in favor of Google only to have that decision reversed by a circuit court. That prompted Google's appeal to the nation's highest court this past March.

Oracle at the time asked the U.S. Supreme Court to not review an appellate court's decision finding Google violated Oracle's copyright of the Java platform when building the Android mobile operating system.

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In that opposition brief, Oracle's attorneys said Google's copyright violation shut Oracle, the Java platform owner, out of the emerging smartphone market, causing incalculable harm to its business.

Oracle noted Google had previously asked for a writ of certiorari—the legal term for review by the high court—in 2015 without success in an earlier phase of the case, and the company argues nothing has changed in the time since.

Oracle believes Google destroyed its hopes of competing as a smartphone platform developer with the Java platform, which enables development and execution of software written in Java, including through APIs that access a vast software library. The lawsuit alleged Google copied those APIs without a proper license.

Java was developed at Sun Microsystems, which Oracle acquired in 2010.

"Google’s theory is that, having invested all those resources to create a program popular with platform developers and app programmers alike, Oracle should be required to let a competitor copy its code so that it can coopt the fan base to create its own best-selling sequel," Oracle's brief stated.

In September, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to decline Google’s appeal to the court.

Google said it welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case.

“We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to review the case and we hope that the Court reaffirms the importance of software interoperability in American competitiveness,” said Kent Walker, SVP, Global Affairs, in a statement to CRN. “Developers should be able to create applications across platforms and not be locked into one company's software. ”

CRN has reached out to Oracle for comment.