Google, Oracle's endless Java copyright battle extended to ... 2016

Judge just doesn't have the time to hear their bickering


The long-running copyright dispute between Oracle and Google over the latter's use of the Java language APIs in its Android operating system will likely drag on for another year or more, based on the latest developments in the case in a US federal court.

Reuters reports that US District Judge William Alsup, who has been presiding over the suit since it was filed in 2010, said in proceedings on Thursday that the case would likely not return to court for its next round until spring of 2016 at the earliest.

At issue is the Android smartphone OS, which Google designed based on the Java APIs without negotiating a Java license from Oracle or the original owner of Java, Sun Microsystems, which Oracle bought in 2010.

After failing to prove that Google had violated its patents, Oracle argued that by including short snippets of Android source code that were identical to Java code, Google had violated its copyrights. Judge Alsup disagreed, ruling in 2012 that APIs, in and of themselves, cannot be copyrighted. But a US appeals court overturned that ruling in 2014, leaving us where we are now.

Google's appeal of the verdict to the US Supreme Court fell on deaf ears, so what comes next is a new trial. At issue this time will be whether Google's infringement of Oracle's copyrights constituted "fair use" – meaning it was acceptable under the original intent of the copyright statutes. The jury deadlocked on this point in the original trial.

If the new trial finds that the fair use doctrine doesn't apply, it will be up to the jury to determine the amount of damages Google owes Oracle. The database giant initially claimed it was owed as much as $6.1bn. While the court laughed off that sum, however, Oracle is still seeking more than $1bn.

Getting further face time before Judge Alsup is proving to be a problem, though. On Thursday, the judge said that his trial calendar precluded giving the companies a new hearing before next spring, and that mid-2016 might be more likely.

In the meantime, Judge Alsup expects Google and Oracle to try to resolve their differences through mediation. He's pushed for resolution via mediation in the past, but both companies have seemed to prefer litigation as a solution.

This time around, one of Google's lawyers objected to the mediation route, saying he thought it would be "premature." Judge Alsup wasn't hearing it, however, and he ordered both parties to pursue mediation "whether you like it or not." ®


Other stories you might like

  • Google has more reasons why it doesn't like antitrust law that affects Google
    It'll ruin Gmail, claims web ads giant

    Google has a fresh list of reasons why it opposes tech antitrust legislation making its way through Congress but, like others who've expressed discontent, the ad giant's complaints leave out mention of portions of the proposed law that address said gripes.

    The law bill in question is S.2992, the Senate version of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA), which is closer than ever to getting votes in the House and Senate, which could see it advanced to President Biden's desk.

    AICOA prohibits tech companies above a certain size from favoring their own products and services over their competitors. It applies to businesses considered "critical trading partners," meaning the company controls access to a platform through which business users reach their customers. Google, Apple, Amazon, and Meta in one way or another seemingly fall under the scope of this US legislation. 

    Continue reading
  • Makers of ad blockers and browser privacy extensions fear the end is near
    Overhaul of Chrome add-ons set for January, Google says it's for all our own good

    Special report Seven months from now, assuming all goes as planned, Google Chrome will drop support for its legacy extension platform, known as Manifest v2 (Mv2). This is significant if you use a browser extension to, for instance, filter out certain kinds of content and safeguard your privacy.

    Google's Chrome Web Store is supposed to stop accepting Mv2 extension submissions sometime this month. As of January 2023, Chrome will stop running extensions created using Mv2, with limited exceptions for enterprise versions of Chrome operating under corporate policy. And by June 2023, even enterprise versions of Chrome will prevent Mv2 extensions from running.

    The anticipated result will be fewer extensions and less innovation, according to several extension developers.

    Continue reading
  • Oracle closes $28.3b Cerner buy amid warnings of commercial challenges
    Database titan 'does not buy companies and then lowers costs'

    Oracle has closed the acquisition of Cerner Corporation, a specialist in healthcare software, in a deal set to be worth $28.3 billion.

    But as Larry Ellison, Oracle's chairman of the board and chief technology officer, is set to outline Oracle's strategy for its acquisition's role in healthcare in the coming days, Cerner customers are being warned to expect some surprises in renegotiating their contracts.

    Last month, Cerner said it secured 331 new, expanded and extended client contracts in first quarter, including Ohio-based Blanchard Valley Health System and Virginia-based Mountain Health Network.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022