Column You won't be paying an Oracle tax on your next Android phone. After 10 years of Big Red claiming dibs on Android internals and Google telling them to GTFO, the legals have finally been settled by the US Supreme Court. Google has won.
The case was in many ways a classic troll. Way back when, Google thought Java SE would be a good platform to build its new Android phone around. That didn't work out, thank your favourite deity, so Google wrote its own platform with just enough Java structure to bring caffeinated programmers – of whom there were millions – along for the ride.
Everyone was happy until Oracle turned up. It fancied a new revenue line for the profit centre it called its legal department. Looking around, Oracle discovered and hauled away the dying Sun with – aha – intellectual property that could be weaponised. Most notably, Google's little shards of Java API. There were other things too, like patents, but they soon fell by the wayside. As the court case crept up the American legal system, it became widely understood to be about whether you can copyright APIs. Oracle said yes, and Google had infringed that copyright. Google said no, and anyway even if it had, the "fair use" aspect of copyright applied.