Oracle's copyright suit against Google for using Java APIs in Android has been an ongoing feud since 2010, and the stakes are only about to get higher. The Federal Circuit denied Google's appeal Tuesday of a March decision that found Google's use of Oracle's Java APIs was not fair use. Now, Google has stated it will take the case to the Supreme Court.
"We are disappointed that the Federal Circuit overturned the jury finding that Java is open and free for everyone. We will appeal to the Supreme Court to defend this principle against companies like Oracle, whose restrictive practices threaten to stifle the work of new generations of tech developers," Google said in a statement sent to Android Police.
Winning the case is mostly important for Google from a precedent-setting standpoint, but losing would also carry a hefty charge; in the last trial Oracle claimed damages of almost $9 billion. Of course, considering Google's revenues last quarter were just over $32 billion, the company's certainly good for it — but losing several billion dollars is never ideal.
Oracle's case rests on the idea that Google unlawfully copied Oracle's Java APIs for use in Android, when, rather than license the Java platform from Sun Microsystems (acquired by Oracle), Google wrote its own version through reverse engineering. Google's argument is that Java is open-source, and that its use of the APIs structure, sequence, and organization fell under fair use.
The Tuesday finding marks the third trial in this case, which has seen victories on both sides. Google successfully argued its claims in 2012, but the decision was reversed in 2014 after an appeal by Oracle. In 2016, Google was once again found to be in the right, which was the last major development until this most recent decision.
It's difficult to say who will be the victor in this longstanding, contentious battle, but with two wins going in, Google certainly seems to have the edge. It's also not yet clear whether the Supreme Court will grant a hearing — it hasn't deliberated on the topics of fair use or software copyrights for quite some time. However, if it does, the decision will no doubt have a major influence on all similar lawsuits that come after.