Oracle Accepts Zero Damages From Google in Java API Lawsuit

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2012-06-20

Oracle on June 20 absorbed a second legal defeat from Google by accepting zero financial damages in the first step of its quest to sue the search engine company for using Java application programming interfaces in Android without purchasing a license for them.

In the landmark IT court case that began April 16, a federal judge ruled May 31 that Java APIs used by Google in building the now-popular mobile-device operating system are not protected by copyright.

Oracle, plaintiff in the case and maintainer of the Java programming language as well as organizer of its open-source community, reiterated that it will "vigorously" appeal the verdict. The company had asked for nearly $1 billion in restitution and an injunction against Google for using the Android OS.

The zero dollars settlement, Oracle said in court documents, was accepted €œrelated to Google€™s infringement of Oracle€™s copyrights in connection with (1) the rangeCheck code in and, and (2) the eight decompiled files (seven €˜€™ files and one €˜ACL€™ file).€

Judge William Alsup, who had conducted the court proceedings in San Francisco, asked Oracle lawyer Michael Jacobs whether Oracle would be continuing the case. Jacobs said, €œI hope we see you again after an appeal.€

"This order does not hold that Java API packages are free for all to use without license," Alsup wrote in an order filed May 31 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. "It does not hold that the structure, sequence and organization of all computer programs may be stolen. Rather, it holds on the specific facts of this case, the particular elements replicated by Google were free for all to use under the Copyright Act."

Because the APIs contain techniques, and since techniques by definition are not copyrightable, the decision was not a surprise to many IT professionals. But Oracle was determined to prove that Google's use of the open-source Java and its APIs was beyond fair use.

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