Google Beats Oracle in the Android Lawsuit

Jun 01, 2016

Juries decides Google’s use of Java APIs Was Fair Use

A jury unanimously found that Google did not violate Oracle’s copyright in its Android Operating system. The jury found that, while Google did use Oracle’s Java APIs, they were used under fair use doctrine, which means Google didn’t need Oracle’s permission. As a result, Oracle is not entitled to any damages. The decision brings another end to the $9 billion lawsuit Oracle filed against Google. Oracle is likely to appeal, but once a jury decides on the facts, an appeals court has limited options for overturning the decision.

The courtroom battle between Google and Oracle has gone on for several years. Google achieved an earlier victory when Judge William Alsup decided the API was not copyrightable, but Oracle went to the Federal Circuit court, which decided that APIs are subject to copyright. The case then went back to a lower court to decide whether Google’s use of the APIs was fair.

Although Google has won this particular case, it’s not a victory for developers. EFF’s Parker Higgins wrote in a blog post, “While developers of interoperable software can take some comfort in the fact that reimplementation may be fair use, a simpler and fairer solution would simply have been to recognize API labels as a system or method of operation not restricted by copyright.”

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