Supreme Court to take up Google-Oracle fight

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The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to take up the long-running legal battle over Oracle’s allegations that Google illegally used its code, setting the stage for a landmark battle over copyright that could have wide-reaching implications for Silicon Valley.

The justices agreed to decide whether Google violated federal copyright law when it used some of Oracle’s programming language to build its Android operating system, taking up a heated legal conflict that has bounced through the courts for almost a decade.

Google had appealed a lower court’s ruling that it unlawfully used Oracle’s code in its software. The Supreme Court had denied an earlier Google petition to hear the case in 2014, after the initial trial.

For years, Oracle has alleged that Google stole its code to build the mega-popular Android software, which runs the majority of smartphones in the world.

Google says it did not violate any laws and made the code its own when it incorporated Oracle’s Java programming language into the Android platform.

Oracle first sued Google in 2010, and the case has been closely watched because of its implications for how copyright protection affects programming language.

“We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to review the case and we hope that the Court reaffirms the importance of software interoperability in American competitiveness,” Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president for global affairs, said in a statement on Friday. “Developers should be able to create applications across platforms and not be locked into one company’s software.”

Google has lost several times in lower courts in the ongoing case. Most recently in 2018, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in favor of Oracle, finding Google unfairly used Oracle’s programming language when it built Android.

Google — alongside tech companies including Microsoft and Mozilla — petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the case earlier this year.

In 2014, the Department of Justice recommended against taking up the case, leading the Supreme Court to decline Google v. Oracle. But this time around, the justices have agreed to settle the long-running Silicon Valley debate.

— Updated at 3:00 p.m.

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