updated 11:43 am EDT, Fri May 9, 2014
Next step for Android case either Supreme Court or retrial
The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC has overturned the Google vs Oracle court case, finding that Java APIs are subject to copyright protection. Reuters' Dan Levine was the first to break the news with a tweet on the ruling. The trial is now likely to head back to the Northern District of California for a second attempt, or see hearings before the US Supreme Court upon further appeal.
As early as December, it seemed like the original ruling by Judge William Alsup was in danger of being overturned. Reuters' Dan Levine and The Recorder's Scott K. Graham, both in attendance at the hearing, published Twitter posts suggesting that the appeals court was likely to reverse Google's earlier win.
US District Judge William Alsup sided with Google in the initial lawsuit, ruling that the open-source Java APIs copied by the company's Android operating system were not protected by copyright. Appeals Court Judge Kathleen O'Malley reportedly told Google's attorneys to stop citing fair-use cases, however, and focus on copyrightability cases in their defense arguments.
Oracle had sought billions of dollars in damages for the alleged infringement, before losing the initial court battles. Google countered with an offer for a small fraction of Android license revenue for two patents in question, however Oracle declined the offer and pushed forward with the appeal proceedings.
Despite problems encountered by the jury in achieving a complete consensus, they eventually declared that Google had indeed copied Java code for Android, but without infringing any copyrights. Judge Alsup's subsequent ruling was viewed as significant for the entire industry, indicating likely difficulty in pursuing copyright claims related to APIs in open-source software.