Oracle Loses Google Lawsuit, Judge Rules Java APIs Can't Be Copyrighted

It's a major victory for Google as Oracle walked out pretty much empty handed

Oracle has lost its lawsuit against Google over copyright and patent infringement in Android entirely as Judge William Alsup decided that the Java APIs can't be copyrighted.

The jury had previously decided that Google didn't infringe on Oracle's patents, which it acquired from Sun. With the copyright infringement accusation dismissed, Google won every count.

Oracle isn't happy, it spent tens of millions of dollars on lawyers in the lawsuit, Google did the same, and it got nothing. It's no surprise then that Oracle has decided to appeal the ruling, this was obvious even before the judge came out and said that APIs can't be copyrighted.

The judge narrowed down the decision to Google and this specific case of 37 Java APIs when he said that they couldn't be copyrighted, but it's still a major win.

"So long as the specific code used to implement a method is different, anyone is free under the Copyright Act to write his or her own code to carry out exactly the same function or specification of any methods used in the Java API," the judge wrote in his decision.

"It does not matter that the declaration or method header lines are identical. Under the rules of Java, they must be identical to declare a method specifying the same functionality — even when the implementation is different," the judge said.

"When there is only one way to express an idea or function, then everyone is free to do so and no one can monopolize that expression," he added.

The judge confessed that he knew how to program since before the lawsuit. He also learned Java to help him better understand the claims. This helped him come up with a very technical decision, one that will be hard to overturn.

He argued that since the actual code was different and only the method and class names were the same, there could be no talk of infringement.

Oracle is left with a very minor victory, the jury ruled that Google copied nine lines of code from Java source code. The judge included several test files that were also copied in the decision, but this only entitles Oracle to statutory damages, a maximum of $300,000.

It's a very good decision for Google and for the tech world in general. Unfortunately, Oracle won't let it stand so this will drag on for much longer. Lawyers are happy though, they're getting rich. Well, richer.

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