Appeals court hands Oracle victory over Google in landmark copyright case

Appeals court hands Oracle victory over Google in landmark copyright case

A federal appeals court has ruled that Google unfairly used Oracle’s software in developing its Android mobile platform, reversing an earlier jury decision and opening the door for a multibillion-dollar ruling against Google.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled on Tuesday that Google’s use of Oracle’s Java application programming interface (API) — a tool that allows software programs to communicate with each other — was “unfair as a matter of law.”

“[T]he fact that Android is free of charge does not make Google’s use of the Java API packages noncommercial,” the three-judge panel wrote in its decision.

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The judges ordered the case remanded to a federal district court in California to determine damages. Oracle had been seeking $8.8 billion.

"The Federal Circuit's opinion upholds fundamental principles of copyright law and makes clear that Google violated the law,” Oracle general counsel Dorian Daley said in a statement. “This decision protects creators and consumers from the unlawful abuse of their rights."

Google has not said if it would challenge the ruling. It could ask the full appeals court to review the decision, which could open the door for the Supreme Court to take it up.

“We are disappointed the court reversed the jury finding that Java is open and free for everyone,” a Google spokesperson said. “This type of ruling will make apps and online services more expensive for users. We are considering our options.”