Google loses Android battle and could owe Oracle billions of dollars

Google just lost a major copyright case that could cost it billions of dollars and change how tech companies approach...

Posted: Mar 28, 2018 10:24 AM
Updated: Mar 28, 2018 10:24 AM

Google just lost a major copyright case that could cost it billions of dollars and change how tech companies approach software development.

An appeals court said on Tuesday that Google violated copyright laws when it used Oracle's open-source Java software to build the Android platform in 2009.

Tuesday's ruling is the latest development in a topsy-turvy eight-year battle between Google and Oracle.

Oracle first brought its case against Google in 2010, claiming that Android infringes two patents that Oracle holds on its Java software, a ubiquitous programming language powering everything from phones to websites.

In 2012, a jury determined that Java does not deserve protection under copyright law. Two years later, an appeals court overturned the ruling, raising the question of whether Google's use of Oracle's API violated copyright law.

A jury determined in 2016 that Google's use of Oracle's APIs was legal under the copyright law's fair use doctrine, which allows the free use of copyrighted material under specific circumstances. Oracle appealed the decision, and a judge took its side on Tuesday.

"There is nothing fair about taking a copyrighted work verbatim and using it for the same purpose and function as the original in a competing platform," a panel of three Federal Circuit judges wrote in Tuesday's opinion.

Oracle said in a statement on Tuesday that the recent "decision protects creators and consumers." Google said it is weighing its next steps. It could appeal to the full slate of judges on the court.

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

Related: Jury sides with Google in billion dollar Oracle suit

Another court will decide how much Google owes Oracle in damages.

As of 2016, Oracle was seeking about $9 billion from Google. But because APIs have become much more widespread over the years, a court could decide that Oracle deserves more, said Christopher Carani, a partner with McAndrews, Held & Malloy and a professor at Northwestern's law school.

"The numbers in this case will be staggering," he added.

The verdict is likely to eclipse the current largest copyright verdict of $1.3 billion, awarded to Oracle when it sued rival SAP in 2010.

Google isn't the only company that stands to lose from this decision. Many others rely on open-source software to develop their own platforms. Tuesday's ruling means that some will either have pay to license certain software or develop their own from scratch.

"The decision is going to create a significant shift in how software is developed worldwide," Carani said. "It really means that copyright in this context has teeth."

"Sometimes free is not really free," he added.

- CNNMoney's David Goldman contributed reporting.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 66646

Reported Deaths: 1874
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5544117
DeSoto357430
Harrison240635
Madison239664
Rankin225132
Jackson222542
Jones185058
Forrest175855
Washington160640
Lauderdale139790
Lee138333
Neshoba128492
Lamar119214
Oktibbeha109638
Bolivar109333
Lowndes105837
Warren103332
Panola102612
Scott99520
Sunflower99224
Lafayette95615
Copiah94528
Leflore90762
Pike89635
Holmes87348
Grenada83821
Yazoo81512
Pontotoc8098
Lincoln79641
Leake78625
Simpson78630
Monroe76952
Wayne75321
Coahoma71511
Tate70527
Marshall6749
Marion64320
Winston61116
Adams61025
Covington61013
Union60116
George5494
Newton53711
Pearl River52937
Tallahatchie52210
Attala51525
Walthall49119
Chickasaw45019
Noxubee44811
Calhoun4079
Prentiss40310
Claiborne39813
Alcorn3975
Smith39713
Clay39214
Jasper3819
Hancock37314
Tishomingo3635
Itawamba34810
Tippah34213
Clarke32525
Tunica3226
Montgomery3153
Lawrence3127
Yalobusha31210
Humphreys28311
Carroll26011
Quitman2521
Greene23611
Jefferson Davis2286
Kemper22714
Amite2256
Webster22512
Perry2237
Wilkinson20113
Jefferson1946
Sharkey1944
Stone1864
Benton1420
Choctaw1314
Franklin1192
Issaquena251
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 94827

Reported Deaths: 1674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12743242
Mobile9565206
Montgomery6521148
Madison525030
Tuscaloosa410371
Unassigned347461
Baldwin344323
Shelby320133
Marshall309034
Lee262844
Morgan233017
Etowah207530
DeKalb177113
Calhoun170413
Elmore169438
Walker150264
Houston136412
Russell13422
Dallas131123
St. Clair131016
Limestone128413
Franklin125820
Cullman120112
Colbert115613
Lauderdale113917
Autauga106521
Escambia105416
Talladega98613
Jackson9454
Tallapoosa84979
Chambers83538
Dale82323
Blount7743
Chilton7676
Butler75935
Coffee7475
Covington72620
Pike6907
Barbour5695
Lowndes56724
Marion56724
Marengo54614
Clarke4969
Hale46726
Bullock45411
Winston44411
Perry4364
Wilcox41810
Bibb4164
Monroe4154
Randolph39410
Pickens3849
Conecuh38210
Sumter36218
Lawrence3441
Macon33213
Washington32712
Crenshaw3133
Choctaw27912
Cherokee2637
Geneva2550
Henry2523
Greene25011
Clay2495
Lamar2172
Fayette1985
Cleburne1251
Coosa1012
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 96° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 84°
Columbus
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 76°
Oxford
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
Starkville
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather