Epic copyright showdown returns to court, six years after Oracle vs Google battle first went legal
The legal bunfight between Oracle and Google, over the disputed use of Java in the Android operating system, has once again returned to the courtroom.
It comes as the CEOs of both of Google (Sundar Pichai) and Oracle (Safra Catz) met for six hours last month for court-mandated settlement talks. That meeting failed to resolve the differences between the two companies, which forced a retrial.
Earlier this week a jury of ten men and women was picked, and today is the opening statements from the two opposing camps.
According to reports the trial is only expected to last a month, but then again no one would have imagined back in 2010 that this battle would still be ongoing, six years later.
It was back in August 2010 when Oracle first sued Google over Android. Oracle demanded $1 billion (£630m) in damages, claiming that Google had violated copyrights of the Java software platform, infringed two (brought down from seven) Java-related patents and illegally used design specifications of at least 37 APIs.
Google argued its use of Java was covered under fair use.
That trial took place in 2012, and in the end a jury found Google had infringed Oracle’s copyright. However the jury were divided over whether the copying was allowed under “fair use”, which permits copying of protected works in certain, limited cases.
Both firms said in 2012 that they would appeal the original verdict.
The courtroom tussle is a high stakes battle between two big players in the tech industry. At stake are damages that could potentially run into many billion of dollars.
Oracle said in March it would seek up to $9.3 billion (£6.5bn) in reparations, a figure that reflects the quick growth of the market for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, which have come to eclipse conventional PCs.
“Nothing that the judge, the jury or the lawyers will say during the retrial is going to have an impact on API copyrightability or result in a general rule that makes APIs available on “fair use” terms,” warned patent expert Florian Mueller. “This is not a prediction of the outcome.”
“If the jury is very smart, it will figure this out and conclude that there was no “fair use” here, by far,” he said. “Of course, a stupid jury could also reach that conclusion, but more likely a stupid or even “semi-smart” jury will side with Google.”
“If the jury agrees with Oracle, Google will appeal. Otherwise, Oracle will,” Mueller said.
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