A US jury concluded that Google was not in violation of copyright laws where it used Oracle’s Java programming language to develop its operating system, Android. After the case was remanded in-part by an earlier circuit court decision, the jurors were tasked with determining whether Google’s use of the Java language was considered “fair-use” under copyright law. The victory for Google, which will eliminate Oracle’s claim for $9 billion of Google’s Android phone business, serves to encourage software companies to write “re-implementations of the systems used to pass information between widely-used software,” as they will not, as of now, have to fear the legal repercussions. Despite this victory for those seeking to use re-implemented programming language, the previous decision, which had remanded the issue of fair-use in this case, may still make some take precaution. In that case, the circuit court held that Java APIs were granted copyright protection.
In 2012 a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of California ordered Oracle to reimburse Google about $1 million for costs incurred during the course of the companies’ recent patent litigation. Earlier that year a federal jury held that Google’s use of the application programming interfaces was not an infringement of Oracle’s patents. Earlier that month the jury found itself deadlocked on the issue of whether Google’s use could be considered “fair use” making it difficult for Oracle to win a large damage award. The case went to trial after settlement negotiations broke down. This most recent decision was preceded by the 2014 ruling in which the circuit court allowed Oracle to bring its case against Google.