Google has marked a major victory against Oracle in the long-standing dispute over the Java API’s integration within Android development.
It saved Google $10 billion that it otherwise would have paid Oracle in damages over the unfair use of the Java API as claimed by Oracle. However, this relief is temporary as Oracle might appeal against the judgement.
Oracle projected the $10 billion figure based on its estimation of $31bn in sales and $22bn in profit that it believes Google made from Android since the OS was launched back in 2008. Google, on the other hand, was seen denying all Oracle’s claims.
The latest judgement might lead to another series of flip-flops as continued throughout the case since 2010. All of it started when Oracle sued Google for the way the latter used Java’s core APIs in developing Android.
Sun Microsystems developed the Java programming language. Meanwhile, Oracle acquired Sun in 2010 and the legal tussle with Google began soon after that.
“We strongly believe that Google developed Android by illegally copying core Java technology to rush into the mobile device market,” said Oracle general counsel Dorian Daley in a statement. “We believe there are numerous grounds for appeal.”
Initially, it was Oracle that seemed close to achieving victory after a jury found enough substance in Oracle’s arguments. However, the ruling was soon overturned with the district judge ruling otherwise, claiming APIs cannot be copyrighted. Interestingly, appeals court again ruled in favor of Oracle in 2014.
Google’s subsequent appeal against that ruling in the Supreme Court was rejected, which means the appeals court’s decision held sway until then.
Now the court passed the judgement in favor of Google, claiming the Mountain View company’s use of the 37 specific Java APIs constituted fair use policy of the copyright law.
The ruling also has larger implications for the developer community as it’s a known practice to reuse APIs in constituting something new. A decision in favor of Oracle could result in bad times for the programmers who could then be forced to give up on programming tasks that end up in courts.
“It was everyone’s understanding that you are allowed to re-implement these APIs, and that is how you have seen software development and interoperability work throughout history,” the EFF’s Parker Higgins said to The Register.
Now it remains to be seen how this entire fight evolves in the coming weeks. The saga does not seem to end anytime soon as the damages claimed are just too big for Oracle to give up on.