Mobile and Wireless: Oracle vs. Google: The Curious Fate of a Tangled Case on Java APIs
A Case That Was Supposed to Legally Define APIs
At the copyright and patent trial in federal court in San Francisco, which began April 16, Oracle charged Google with stealing 37 key parts of its Java software suite to help build its highly successful Android mobile device operating system. Oracle is seeking about $1 billion in damages and a possible injunction against Google using the software. The case may be a landmark in deciding if application programming interfaces (APIs) are copyrightable.
What a tangled Web of litigation, close friends, enemies, software licensing, open-source interpretation and intrigue this case proved to be. A jury in Federal District Court for Northern California in San Francisco delivered a partial victory for Oracle by determining that Google had violated Oracle's copyrights related to Java language APIs used to develop the Android mobile operating system. But the Jury failed to reach a verdict on the essential question of whether or not Google had made "fair use" of the APIs and was therefore protected at least partially from liability. As a result, a trial that supposedly had the potential to set a major standard in software development law ended in a muddle that only further court decisions can resolve. At the copyright and patent trial in federal court, which began April 16, Oracle charged Google with stealing 37 APIs in its Java software suite to help build the highly successful Android mobile device operating system. Oracle is seeking about $1 billion in damages and a possible injunction against Google using the software. In only four years, Android has become the most popular mobile operating system for smartphones and other mobile devices in the world. Android, released in 2008 by Google to partners such as Samsung, HTC and other manufacturers for smartphones and tablet PCs, now runs on more than 300 million mobile devices. Google believes that with this litigation, Oracle is unjustly trying to horn in on the profits from the OS. Here, eWEEK highlights the key figures and data points thus far in the trial, which is expected to continue into June with deliberations on the separate patent infringement issues in the case.