Google beats Oracle in Java trial

  • Jury accepts fair use argument
  • Oracle plans to appeal verdict
Google beats Oracle in Java trial

THERE is an African saying that when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. A lot of grass in the IT sector will be breathing a sigh of relief now that Google has won agianst Oracle in its Java API fair use court fight.
Following a two-week trial, a federal jury in the United States has pronounced the verdict that Google's Android operating system does not infringe Oracle copyrights because its use of 37 Java APIs is protected by "fair use." 
The verdict was reached after three days of deliberations.  There was only one question on the special verdict form, asking if Google's use of the Java APIs was "fair use" under copyright law. The jury unanimously agreed it was.
Google said in a statement that its victory was good for everybody. "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," a Google spokesperson said via e-mail.
Oracle, however, vowed to appeal. "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," Dorian Daley, Oracle's general counsel, said in a statement.
Over the course of the two-week trial, jurors heard testimony from current and former CEOs at Sun Microsystems, Google, and Oracle, as well as programmers and computer experts from both companies.
Oracle, which acquired Java when it purchased Sun Microsystems, sued Google over the APIs in 2010. In 2012, following a first jury trial, US District Judge William Alsup ruled that APIs can't be copyrighted at all, but Alsup's opinion was overturned on appeal.
At this month's trial, Google's only available argument was that the 37 APIs constituted "fair use." As Android prospered, Oracle's Java licensing business cratered.
Google had argued that the Java language has always been "free and open" to use and that included the reimplementation of Java APIs. Sun and its CEO Jonathan Schwartz accepted Android as a legitimate, if inconvenient, competitive product.
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