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InfoQ Homepage News Oracle Seeks $8.8 Billion in Damages from Google after Appeal

Oracle Seeks $8.8 Billion in Damages from Google after Appeal

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Oracle says Google's use of Java Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) was not fair. Google says it was. The court battle between the two tech giants started back in 2010, and after ongoing trials and appeals, the U.S. Court of Appeals reached a decision. Google's use of Java in Android wasn't fair use. Google could owe Oracle billions. The battle is not over though; it may reach the Supreme Court.

Several twists and turns occurred during the eight-year battle between Oracle and Google:

  • 2010 – Oracle sues Google, claiming that Android infringes on two patents held by Oracle on its Java software.
  • 2012 – A judge ruled that Google had not infringed on the Java patents and that the APIs didn't deserve protection under copyright law. Oracle appeals this decision.
  • 2014 – An appeals court rules in favor of Oracle and overturns the 2012 ruling.
  • 2016 – A second jury trial determines that Google's use of Java in Android was fair. Oracle again appeals the decision.
  • 2018 – An appeals court rules in favor of Oracle and overturns the 2016 ruling.

Google was disappointed to hear that the appellate court ruled its use of open-source Java went too far when building the Android platform and violated Oracle's copyrights. Google spokesman, Patrick Lenihan, said in a statement:

We are disappointed the court reversed the jury finding that Java is open and free for everyone. We are considering our options.

One option Google may consider is taking the case to the Supreme Court, again. The Supreme Court has so far refused to review the case, but it might no longer be able to do so. Dorian Daley, Oracle general counsel, said:

The recent decision protects creators and consumers from the unlawful abuse of their rights.

Speaking on the matter, Sun Microsystems co-founder, Scott McNealy, said:

[Java] is the foundation upon which our digital world is built. Google stole that foundation, used it to build Android, and destroyed Oracle's market in the process.

Oracle is seeking $8.8 billion, but that amount could grow. A separate court will determine the amount Google owes Oracle in damages.

Android is currently free of charge, but the lingering nature of this case has developers wondering what the long-term impact will be on the Android platform. Google spokesman, Patrick Lenihan, said:

This type of ruling will make apps and online services more expensive for users.

This could also directly affect any company that has monetized the Android platform, which includes software developers. The end result of the legal battle could change how companies approach software development. In a world where companies rely on open-source software to develop their platforms, new license fees may come into play. Companies may even decide to forgo the use of open-source software and develop their own from scratch. This lawsuit is huge in terms of precedents and could have a long-term effect on the speed of innovation in software.

InfoQ plans to keep a close eye on the case. Readers can also keep up to date with all Java-related news by visiting the InfoQ Java homepage.

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