Long running Android-related legal battle will be heard by the Supreme Court

Long running Android-related legal battle will be heard by the Supreme Court
Back in 2011, we told you that Oracle wanted Google to pay it $9.3 billion for using APIs from Java in Android without permission. APIs, or Application programming interfaces, provide developers and others with access to a third-party application or platform. Oracle filed a lawsuit and a jury ruled in favor of Google. But that wasn't the end of the story. Oracle won an appeal and the case went back to court. In 2016, a jury once again ruled in Google's favor and said that the company's use of the Java APIs was covered by the fair use doctrine. But a federal appeals court reversed that decision and remanded the case back to lower court to compute the damages.

Running out of legal options, Google turned to the U.S. Supreme Court hoping that the top court in the land would hear the case. And yesterday, as reported by the New York Times, the Supreme Court said that it would hear what Google calls the "the copyright case of the decade." In a brief that it filed with the Supreme Court, Google pointed out that allowing free access to software interfaces is necessary for innovation to pump up the economy. Google's argument reads, "Without interfaces, your contact list cannot access your email program, which cannot send a message using the operating system, which cannot access your phone in the first place. Each is an island. Countless other examples abound. The information age depends on the reuse of interfaces. Once an interface is written and used, no substitute works, because information must be passed precisely."

The Trump administration has sided with Oracle


In its own brief, Oracle responded by saying that without copyright protection, innovation would not be possible. "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 co-opt the fan base to create its own best-selling sequel," The brief warns how the lack of copyright protection could chill innovation in the country. "The next Oracle will think twice about investing as heavily in a venture like Java if it knows that any competitor could freely copy its work to compete directly against it." Oracle also wrote that it "spent years and hundreds of millions of dollars writing a blockbuster work—a software platform. Google then refused Oracle’s offer of a license and copied the most recognizable portions of that work into a competing platform."

For what it's worth, the Trump administration had tried to get the Supreme Court to reject Google's petition. Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco wrote that Google "copied 11,500 lines of computer code verbatim, as well as the complex structure and organization inherent in that code, in order to help its competing commercial product." Francisco added that by using Java without permission, Google harmed the market for the platform.


So now this long-running case is approaching the end and both sides have prevailed at various times. Google says that if the Supreme Court rules against it, innovation could be stifled. Oracle says that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Google, corporations won't freely spend to develop new technologies that can be used without permission. Whatever the court rules, it is going to have a major effect on copyright laws in the United States. And of course, Google is looking to avoid having to pay the $9.3 billion in damages that Oracle is seeking.

Oracle said that it is "confident the Supreme Court will preserve long-established copyright protections for original software and reject Google’s continuing efforts to avoid responsibility for copying Oracle’s innovations." Google's SVP for Global Affairs, Kent Walker, stated that the company hopes "that the court reaffirms the importance of software interoperability in American competitiveness." Whether Google or Oracle ultimately triumphs, the decision will have lost-lasting implications for the U.S. tech industry.

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26 Comments

1. f_u_006

Posts: 122; Member since: Mar 19, 2014

Oracle can suck it, just because you change your mind years later does not mean you ought to get paid.

5. sgodsell

Posts: 7567; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Oracle will loose again. Because there is nothing stopping any company from making an open source version of any Language. As a matter of fact there was a number of open source versions of Java before the source code for the original Java was released. Blackdown, PocketJava, Mocha, and a number of others were open source before. It's like Microsoft and with GWBasic, C#, ASP, .Net, and even Apple's Swift. People can mimic the APIs, even if they don't have source code. Good Luck with that Oracle, because your never going to win.

11. yalokiy

Posts: 1101; Member since: Aug 01, 2016

I'm not sure Oracle will lose, it's US after all and they've got Trump support.

2. RevolutionA

Posts: 473; Member since: Sep 30, 2017

Go Oracle! Just ban that OS for what they did

3. lyndon420

Posts: 6876; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Ban Android...to force everyone into using apple? You're such a tool lol.

4. RevolutionA

Posts: 473; Member since: Sep 30, 2017

Forcing everyone to be safe?! Be on a better platform.

6. sgodsell

Posts: 7567; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Lol, forcing is right, only it's a type of forcing that closely resembles being locked into shackles, especially when you use Apple platforms, or their products.

7. RevolutionA

Posts: 473; Member since: Sep 30, 2017

Jealous of their premium? Quality? Best customer service? Maybe everything. Bound in that little, slow Android kids stuff

8. koioz

Posts: 183; Member since: Nov 29, 2018

Laughed so hard when you said premium. Parts are made in china. Apple chose cheaper parts just to rip you off. LCD for a flagship phone lol

9. sgodsell

Posts: 7567; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Oh, like that iDiot Phil Schiller who said kids will not succeed if they use a ChromeBook. What an iDiot he proved to be. Especially since a Chromebook can run not only web apps, but Android apps, and full fledged Linux programs, so things like Gimp, Wine, all the developer tools and IDEs, including a Minecraft server. You can even install the ARM gcc toolchain to make programs directly for a Raspberry Pi. Something that an iPad user could only dream about. Nevermind an iPad can't run Java to run the actual Minecraft server. Chromebooks can do so much more than Apples toy iPads. But only ignorant people like Phil or you RevolutionA clearly like to show the world how ignorant you really are.

16. RevolutionA

Posts: 473; Member since: Sep 30, 2017

iPad doesn't need those Java and IDE stuff. It has better apps and is already better than anything else in the market for it's level. Did you see Jonathan Morrison's channel on what all iPad can do? Apple just makes everything better so that the user never have to deal anything with developer tools (cough, Android, cough).

18. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1471; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

And yet it's only been this year that the iPad got a little step closer to the best that Android tablets have offered and it's still miles off from what a Surface Pro can do.

20. sgodsell

Posts: 7567; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Lol, oh yes let's get an Apple sheep's view on an iPad and preach what Apple wants us to preach about the closed locked down iPad. Give us a break. RevolutionA, if you actually used a Chromebook, then you would know that an iPad is truly limiting, and restricted. But talking to an ignorant closed minded person such as yourself, who hasn't used anything but Apple's closed off wall garden, then you won't be able to see what other platforms are out there, or what they offer and can do.

24. RevolutionA

Posts: 473; Member since: Sep 30, 2017

Check the iPad review score and compare it to the score of others. Surface? Seriously? It's an experimental laggy piece which keeps on updating forever

28. TBomb

Posts: 1660; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

come for the news. stay for the comments. you are ridiculous lol

12. yalokiy

Posts: 1101; Member since: Aug 01, 2016

I don't think they want to ban Android, it's more about getting easy money.

10. yalokiy

Posts: 1101; Member since: Aug 01, 2016

One more reason to question Trump administration..

15. RevolutionA

Posts: 473; Member since: Sep 30, 2017

What!! Why president Trump? Just see how better is current situation here. Wake up boy

19. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1471; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

Really? His plans are pushing the USA to economic collapse in the next decade and you call that a good thing? Violence is up, major criminals take a walk, corruption soaks his government and morons like you praise him. How gullible are you? Well you're an Apple user so i manage very.

22. RevolutionA

Posts: 473; Member since: Sep 30, 2017

Surely you're an outsider here

25. kasrkin76

Posts: 7; Member since: Jan 21, 2014

Honestly Violent crime is down. It has been on a downward trend for several years. The media and people with an agenda are trying to convince you that crime is going up. Major Criminals get off on technicalities which is a by product of the legal system not the Trump Organization. The USA has been increasing debt and having less manufactoring for years before Trump. That is a bigger cause for worry to include the trade imbalance with key nations that do not have our best interests in mind. Now back to the real topic, I am split on it because I agree with both stances. If you use a free API to make millions... the company should have thought about it. If it was not open source free API then why isn't Google paying out? Sounds very cut and dry. And the argument for protecting code, alot of companies already do it just fine, and the big companies have gone open source to increase innovation, which sides with Google.

21. Vancetastic

Posts: 1752; Member since: May 17, 2017

Shocking that our dumbest trolls are Trump supporters...

23. RevolutionA

Posts: 473; Member since: Sep 30, 2017

See who's saying what here

26. Vancetastic

Posts: 1752; Member since: May 17, 2017

I did.

17. inFla

Posts: 178; Member since: Aug 17, 2018

Why mention the President? Not relevant.

27. Alan01

Posts: 641; Member since: Mar 21, 2012

Trump is relevant to this since his administration was supporting Oracle's brief asking that the Supreme Court reject Google's petition. And since it is Trump involved here, it could have been simply because he was ticked off about something he heard on Fox or was told by Hannity. In other words, his position might have been based on a personal animosity rather than based on a reason related to the country. Alan

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