On Thursday after a two week trial, a federal jury has announced their verdict for the Oracle vs Google trial. They have ruled that Google’s Android operating system does not infringe Oracle-owned copyrights, because the re-implementation of Java’s 37 API’s by Google is protected by “fair use”. This verdict was reached after 3 days of discussions.
There was only one question of the special verdict form, which asked whether Google’s use of Java’s API’s was under “fair use” of copyright law. The jury unanimously voted “yes”. This ended the trial because if the jury had answered in Oracle’s favor, they would have gone into a “damages phase” to determine the extent of damages Google would be liable to pay.
Initial estimates put the damages that Google would’ve to pony up at a whopping $9 billion.
After the conclusion of the trial, Google’s spokesperson said via email:
“Today’s verdict that Android makes fair use of Java APIs represents a win for the Android ecosystem, for the Java programming community, and for software developers who rely on open and free programming languages to build innovative consumer products”.
Oracle did not back down from this loss and promised an appeal. Dorian Daley, Oracle’s general counsel hit back:
“We strongly believe that Google developed Android by illegally copying core Java technology to rush into the mobile device market. Oracle brought this lawsuit to put a stop to Google’s illegal behavior. We believe there are numerous grounds for appeal and we plan to bring this case back to the Federal Circuit on appeal”.
During the trial, the jury heard the testimonies from Google’s, Sun’s and Oracle’s current and former CEOs, computer experts from the companies and loyal programmers.
The real argument
Oracle argued during the trial that they (Google) copied parts of their Java API packages and declaring the development as a “shortcut at Oracle’s expense”. As Android gained popularity, Oracle’s Java licensing business centered around feature phones went down.
“They copied 11,500 lines of code. It’s undisputed. They took the code, they copied it, and put it right into Android.” – Peter Bicks, Oracle’s attorney
Google countered that the Java language was free to use and this also includes the re-implementation of its APIs. Sun Microsystems CEO accepted Android as a legitimate and competitive product. Oracle’s CEO Larry Ellison welcomed Android at first but then changed his mind after he tried to build his own smartphone using Java but failed to do so, according to Robert Van Nest, Google’s attorney.