Oracle Taking Steps in Appeal Against Google, and Judges Seem to be Aligning Against Google

| December 5, 2013 | 6 Replies


A U.S Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington are hearing arguments from Oracle that Google used 37 Java Application Programming Interfaces (API) in the development of Google’ Android Operating System, and is seeking $1 billion for those copyright infringements. So far, according to Reuters and Bloomberg, after 90 minutes of arguments from both sides, the three Judge panel may be siding with Oracle.

The appeal centers on whether or not copyright protection can or should pertain to an API – shortcut tools used in software programs to do basic functions, such as connecting to the internet. These tools help developers to write programs for a multitude of cross-platforms. The appeals Circuit Judge, Kathleen O’Malley, claims that just because Java was available to programmers and freely used does not negate its ability to obtain copyright protection – an almost complete turnaround from the decision made last year.

Oracle claims that Google used their interfaces without permission or payment because they were behind schedule in developing Android and therefore eliminated Oracle’s ability to cash in on the popularity in smartphone sales. Rather than write their own code for the basic things, they copied Java interfaces and incorporated it into their Android OS. Google’s claim is that those interfaces are simply mapping directions, but that Google actually wrote millions of line of original code that is the Android OS. Google claims that the Java code represents fundamental programming that is used by the entire industry at no cost and accused Oracle of trying to “backpedal” on Sun’s (Oracle bought them out in 2010) pledges that Java was free. Van Nest, of Keker & Van Nest in San Francisco said:

“Google was very careful to only use what was structural. No one was able to use the Java language as a smartphone platform.”


Judge O’Malley questioned if Google would freely use interfaces developed by Microsoft or Apple, and Van Nest replied:

“Yes, but only the command structure. They would have to rewrite millions of lines of code. That’s what Android did — 15 million lines of Android code are all original.”

The trial in San Francisco last year attracted much attention because Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Google CEO Larry Page both testified. Oracle now wants the Appeals Court to rule on whether Java APIs can be copyrighted, and if so, then Google’s “fair use” defense is no longer valid. Van Ness said that if the court rules that APIs can be copyrighted, then a jury trial would be needed to determine the fair use issue. He believes the nine lines of code that were found to be copied are so insignificant that they do not matter.

The panel of three Judges gave no indication when they would rule on the matter, and we are not sure how this will affect our beloved Android operating system or Google’s pocketbook. Let us know in the comments or on Google+ what you think of this whole mess – we would love to hear from you.

Category: Android News

About Cory McNutt ()

I am Pittsburgh born and raised except for a 21-year detour through the VA/DC area. I have loved technology and gadgets my entire life, especially mobile devices. I have loved all things Android since I purchased my Motorola Bionic on the day it was release. I now sport a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 that you would have to pry out of my cold, dead hands! I love the excitement each day of what new Android devices will be released, and then I get write about those devices…does life get any better?
  • Pau

    Android is a steal software from front-end to back-end. Google use Chinese way to take over the world.

    • Jason

      I’m sorry was this supposed to make since in any way?

    • Stalemate

      Apparently, “front end to back end” = “9 lines of code”

      • SonOfACook!

        I was reading another comment, on another site, and apparently Steve Jobs, met with Larry Ellison before Steve stopped taking his medication.

        I guess, based on the interview, on 60-Minutes, it’s likely that Steve Jobs asked his friend, Larry Ellison to sue Google during those last few in-person conversations, and then also commanded this to Larry, as his dying breath.

        I read that Syrans, like Steve Jobs, are sometimes real kooky. Also, it’s my understanding that the opensource software (which, we can’t rule out, may have been copied by Sun Microsystems Employees, no longer at Oracle after the merger.) Sun Microsystems also had open-source database software, called MySQL.

        It’s amazing that the DoJ allowed that merger to occur when MySQL ran software systems, including at NASA.

  • Timothy Anderson

    Oracle is going to kill java as a language. I think if this ruling is upheld, people will stray away from it. There are many alternatives.

    • thufir_hawat

      Why not just license under the GPL?

      “Sun Develops A Licensing Regime To Foster A Community And Ensure Compatibility

      Although Oracle owns the copyright on Java SE and the corresponding
      packages, Oracle encourages their use by others—both a vast community of
      programmers writing clever apps and businesses developing proprietary
      and competing products. To accommodate all comers, Sun/Oracle offers
      three different licenses:

      (1) The General Public License (“GPL”) is free of charge…”


      Case: 13-1021 Document: 43 Filed: 02/11/2013

      if you truly want Java to be a better language, bring “Android” back in to Java proper :)