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Google wins landmark legal battle against Oracle

After almost four years of legal wrangling, a US jury has ruled in favour of Google in its long-running dispute with Oracle.

The jury unanimously ruled that Google’s use of Java APIs to create Android was indeed fair use. Oracle had reportedly been seeking $9-billion in damages.

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Oracle has indicated that it will appeal the decision however.

“We strongly believe that Google developed Android by illegally copying core Java technology to rush into the mobile device market. Oracle brought this lawsuit to put a stop to Google’s illegal behaviour. We believe there are numerous grounds for appeal and we plan to bring this case back to the Federal Circuit on appeal,” the company’s Dorian Daley said, according to Ars Technica.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) organisation applauded the verdict.

“A jury unanimously and correctly found today that Google’s use of 37 Java package names and some 11 000 lines of ‘declaring code’ in its Android operating system was lawful fair use, showing once again that our robust fair use doctrine is doing the crucial work of ensuring copyright law doesn’t undermine innovation,” the foundation said.

“The Google verdict is an important validation of the idea that developing interoperable software need not require permission or a license.”

The foundation said that it was a “bittersweet” victory though, as a 2013 Federal Circuit ruling declared Java APIs “copyrightable”. The ruling effectively reversed a 2012 finding that APIs are not subject to copyright.

If Oracle is successful in its appeal, the case would go back to the Federal Circuit. However, the EFF has called on the appeals court to “partially redeem itself” and respect the findings of the jury.

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