Google wins in retrial of Oracle copyright lawsuit

San Francisco, May 27

A jury ruled on Thursday that Google did not unfairly use parts of Java programming language, saving the tech giant from a possible multibillion-dollar verdict in a lawsuit brought by business software firm Oracle.

The retrial stemmed from a 2012 case in which Google also prevailed, and has been closely watched by the tech industry because of its implications for software innovation and copyright law.

Oracle sought billions in damages from Google over the search engine company’s use of Java programming language in its Android smartphone operating system.

But Google and its allies argued that extending copyright protection to bits of code, called application programming interfaces, or APIs, would threaten innovation.

Google said in a statement that the verdict ‘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, which obtained Java when it acquired Sun Microsystems in 2009, had been seeking some $9 billion in damages.

After Google prevailed in the first trial, Oracle appealed, and an appellate panel ruled in 2014 that the lower court had erred, sending the case between the two Silicon Valley titans back for a new trial.

Oracle said on Thursday its battle was not over.

“We strongly believe that Google developed Android by illegally copying core Java technology to rush into the mobile device market,” Oracle General Counsel Dorian Daley said in an e-mail.

“Oracle brought this lawsuit to put a stop to Google’s illegal behaviour,” he added.

“We believe there are numerous grounds for appeal and we plan to bring this case back to the Federal Circuit on appeal.”

Public interest and industry groups hailed the verdict as a win for the software makers and technology innovators.

Silicon Valley had been watching the case closely, since weaving open source code into software programmes is commonplace and often eliminates a need to re-invent commands considered fundamental.

APIs are seen as snippets of code that simply direct one programme to another, almost the way a restaurant menu points diners to meal options.