Google Wins Fair-Use Trial Against Oracle

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — A jury on Thursday found Google did not infringe Oracle’s copyrights by using 37 Java interfaces in its Android smartphone system because it was fair use.
By winning, Google has evaded a second damages phase of the trial and can avoid paying a potential $9-billion in damages to Oracle.
The verdict ends a two-week trial and three days of jury deliberations. It was the second trial in a six-year legal battle between two of the largest technology behemoths in Silicon Valley.
The verdict will likely be viewed as a win for advocates of open software, many of whom have argued making application program interfaces, or APIs, copyrightable hampers innovation by opening software developers to lawsuits.
The Federal Circuit in 2014 established that APIs are copyrightable when it overturned U.S. District Judge William Alsup’s ruling that Oracle’s Java APIs were not eligible for copyrighting.
APIs are akin to building blocks for programming code that specify how software components communicate with one another.
Google had argued that it needed to copy a small portion of Oracle’s copyrighted APIs in order to effectively use the open source Java language in Android.
Oracle called Google’s argument “the fair use excuse” and contended Google should have paid Sun Microsystems, acquired by Oracle in 2010, for a license to use those APIs. Instead, Oracle told the jury, Google “took a shortcut.”
The trial began May 9. It is the second copyright trial between the two tech giants over Google’s Android smartphone.
Alsup instructed the jury to apply the four-factor test established by Congress to determine whether Google’s use of the declaring code, sequence, structure and organization of the Java APIs was fair use.
Oracle first sued Google for patent and copyright infringement in August 2010, seven months after it acquired the company Sun Microsystems, which created Java in 1991.
A previous jury in 2012 found Google infringed Oracle’s copyrights but could not decide whether it was considered fair use, a legal exception that allows one to use copyrighted material.
The Federal Circuit’s reversal of Alsup’s ruling on the APIs’ copyright eligibility in May 2014 set the stage for the new trial on fair use.
The two-week trial featured all-star testimony from major technology firm executives and software developers, including former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, former Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz and Android chief Andy Rubin.
After the verdict was announced, Alsup thanked the jury for their service but also acknowledged the case is not over yet because there will likely be “appeals and the like.”

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