Oracle won an appeal last March in the long-running legal trial with Google. It followed a jury in 2016 ruling that Android’s use of Java was fair use. Today, Google filed a petition with the Supreme Court to review the case and overturn the appeal.
The case dates back to Oracle’s purchase of Java creators Sun Microsystems in 2010. After the acquisition, the new language owners sued, claiming that Android’s use of Java entitled them to an $8.8 billion slice of the operating system’s business and $475 million in lost potential licensing revenue.
A jury found in 2016 that Google’s use of declaring code — and the structure, sequence, and organization of Java APIs — was fair use. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned that decision to Oracle’s benefit.
Google today petitioned the Supreme Court asking for a review of the dispute. The company argues that last year’s appeal will have a “far-reaching impact on innovation across the computer industry” if not reversed.
Unless the Supreme Court corrects these twin reversals, this case will end developers’ traditional ability to freely use existing software interfaces to build new generations of computer programs for consumers. Just like we all learn to use computer keyboard shortcuts, developers have learned to use the many standard interfaces associated with different programming languages. Letting these reversals stand would effectively lock developers into the platform of a single copyright holder—akin to saying that keyboard shortcuts can work with only one type of computer.
The Android maker claims that Oracle is “trying to profit by changing the rules of software development after the fact,” with several amicus briefs filed in support of Google.
Meanwhile, Oracle’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel Dorian Daley issued a response today:
“Google’s petition for certiorari presents a rehash of arguments that have already been thoughtfully and thoroughly discredited. The fabricated concern about innovation hides Google’s true concern: that it be allowed the unfettered ability to copy the original and valuable work of others for substantial financial gain. In major victories for software innovation, the Court of Appeals has twice sided with Oracle against Google. The Supreme Court should once again deny Google’s request to take the case.”
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