Oracle wins partial victory over Google in Java copyright infringement case

May 7, 2012

The jury found Google liable for copyright infringement in its use of Java in developing Android, but did not decide whether that infringement was protected by rules governing "fair use." Oracle is seeking as much as a billion dollars from Google, claiming the company used copyright-protected elements of Java in developing the Android operating system. 

While the verdict is a partial victory for Oracle in its lawsuit against Google, the enterprise software giant will have to wait longer — possibly for a retrial — to see whether Google will escape liability by claiming fair use. 

The IDG News Service reports that Google's attorney, Robert Van Nest, immediately told the judge that Google would file for a mistrial. Google's argument will be that the same jury must decide both the copyright infringement and fair use issues.

The stakes in the case are enourmous not just for Google but the broader Android ecosystem. While Google has been able to offer Android free of charge to developers, it's not clear what a Google loss in the case would mean to how the operating system is distributed and what, for example, the impact on device makers would be.

The jury also decided that Sun's public statements about Java might have suggested to Google that it did not need a license for Java, but in another setback for Google, it decided there was insufficient evidence to show that Google relied on that information.

The IDG report notes that Google did prevail on some other issues in the case, including the finding that Google did not violate the copyright for Oracle's Java API documentation.

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