Google Prevails in Java Litigation; Oracle May Appeal Again
Six years after first suing Google for ostensibly stealing Java code and using it to build the Android mobile operating system into a worldwide smartphone phenomenon, Oracle has been whacked by the San Francisco federal district court for a second time.
The 10-person jury on May 26 cleared Google of copyright infringement in the case brought by Oracle over Google's use of Java application programming interface (API) code in the globally popular Android OS.
The jury of eight women and two men took a little more than three days to reach its verdict. Had Oracle won, it was planning to seek $9.3 billion in damages.
"Your work is done," Judge William Alsup told the jury after the verdict was read.
A 10-person jury clears Google of copyright infringement over its use of Java code in the globally popular Android mobile device operating system.
Oracle Lawyers Stunned
Oracle's lawyers, undoubtedly believing they won the case, were stunned and sat speechless. Google's legal team smiled and embraced after the jury was led out of the room.
Oracle Not Ready to Give Up YetWhile some people contacted by eWEEK were surprised at the verdict, no one was surprised at Oracle's reaction. The giant database and Web services company has been fighting this fight for six years, has deep pockets and isn't ready to give up now. "This lawsuit is far from over and could go all the way to the Supreme Court. At a minimum, this puts a bit of clarity and is supportive of ownership of improvements to open source software. It's a bad day for Oracle, but it's a good day for open source software," Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy in Austin, Texas, told eWEEK. "I'm pleasantly surprised given the overall complexity of the case and its importance to numerous IT industry communities, particularly developers," Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, told eWEEK. "A judgment for Oracle would have sent tectonic shock waves through the industry, and likely opened the door to numerous additional lawsuits. That's something I'm happy we'll all miss. "According to the expert opinions I've seen, though Oracle will likely try appealing to the Supreme Court, it will have difficulty prevailing since SCOTUS has already examined the case and is loath to overturn firmly rendered lower-court decisions."
Google's 'Compelling Arguments'"Overall, I believe Google put forward compelling arguments, particularly via the testimony of Eric Schmidt [executive chairman of Alphabet, parent company of Google] and [former Sun Microsystems CEO] Jonathan Schwartz, who made it clear that Sun's attitude and intentions toward Java were substantially different before Oracle acquired the company," King said. "In the end, the jury saw through the smoke and mirrors and rendered a judgment that will allow software developers to continue doing business without looking over their shoulders." The disagreement is about Google developers incorporating 37 Java APIs—including some 11,000 of lines of "declaring" code—into its Android operating system, which Google was in a hurry to develop to go up against Apple's iOS in its iPhone. Alsup told the jury to consider four factors in deciding whether Google's use was indeed "fair use." These were: --whether its use of Java was "transformative";
--whether it created something new and different from the original copyright work, which in this case was Java Standard Edition;
--whether Android harmed Java in the marketplace; and
--whether Google employed Java APIs in a "fair use" manner.