Google could owe Oracle Corp. billions of dollars for using Oracle-owned Java programming code in its Android operating system on mobile devices, an appeals court said, as the years-long feud between the two software giants draws near a close. Google\u2019s use of Java shortcuts to develop Android went too far and was a violation of Oracle\u2019s copyrights, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled Tuesday. The case - first filed in 2010 - was remanded to a federal court in California to determine how much the Alphabet Inc. unit should pay. Oracle had been seeking $8.8 billion, though that number could grow. Google expressed disappointment and said it\u2019s considering its next steps in the case. The dispute, which could have far-reaching implications for the entire software industry, has divided Silicon Valley for years between those who develop the code that makes software steps function and those who develop software programs and say their \u201cfair use\u201d of the code is an exception to copyright law. \u201cIt\u2019s a momentous decision on the issue of fair use,\u201d lawyer Mark Schonfeld of Burns & Levinson in Boston, who\u2019s been following the case and isn\u2019t involved. \u201cIt is very, very important for the software industry. I think it\u2019s going to go to the Supreme Court because the Federal Circuit has made a very controversial decision.\u201d Computer Instructions At issue are pre-written directions known as application program interfaces, or APIs, which can work across different types of devices and provide the instructions for things like connecting to the internet or accessing certain types of files. By using the APIs, programmers don\u2019t have to write new code from scratch to implement every function in their software or change it for every type of device. \u201cThe Federal Circuit\u2019s opinion upholds fundamental principles of copyright law and makes clear that Google violated the law,\u201d Oracle General Counsel Dorian Daley said in a statement. \u201cThis decision protects creators and consumers from the unlawful abuse of their rights.\u201d Google and its supporters contend that the ruling, if left to stand, would harm development of new software programs and lead to higher costs for consumers. \u201cWe are disappointed the court reversed the jury finding that Java is open and free for everyone,\u201d Google said in a statement. \u201cThis type of ruling will make apps and online services more expensive for users.\u201d Limited Freedom Oracle said its APIs are freely available to those who want to build applications for computers and mobile devices, but draws the line at anyone who wants to use them for a competing platform or to embed them in an electronic device. \u201cThe fact that Android is free of charge does not make Google\u2019s use of the Java API packages noncommercial,\u201d the three-judge Federal Circuit panel in Washington ruled, noting that Android had generated more than $42 billion in revenue from advertising. It also said that Google had not made any alteration of the copyrighted material. The damages are likely to be hotly contested, with Oracle wanting more than the $8.8 billion it sought at the trial, and Google arguing the value is minimal, said lawyer Ping Hu, who heads the intellectual property group at Mirick O\u2019Connell in Boston. The could mean more public information on how Google profits off an operating system that it offers for free. The decision \u201cis a major win for Oracle, but it\u2019s not the end of the war,\u201d he said. Rush to Mobile Oracle claims Google was in such a rush in the mid-2000s to create an operating system for mobile devices that the company used key parts of copyrighted Java technology without paying royalties. Google, which gets the bulk of its profit from selling advertisements connected to search results, faced an \u201cexistential threat\u201d because its search wasn\u2019t optimized for mobile devices, according to Oracle. Google countered that Oracle was just jealous because it did what Oracle could not - develop an operating system for mobile devices that was free and wildly popular. Google said it used a minuscule percentage of Oracle\u2019s code, only enough to enable programmers to write applications for Android in the Java language. A federal jury in California agreed with Google in 2016, saying Google\u2019s actions were a \u201cfair use\u201d that was exempt from copyright law. Tuesday\u2019s Federal Circuit opinion reverses that verdict. \u201cThere is nothing fair about taking a copyrighted work verbatim and using it for the same purpose and function as the original in a competing platform,\u201d the appeals court ruled. Next Steps Google is likely to ask that either the three-judge panel reconsider its decision, or have the issue go before all active judges of the court. The losing party could then ask the Supreme Court to take the case, which Google supporters are calling for. The Supreme Court had earlier declined to review a closely watched 2014 decision in which the Federal Circuit said the APIs were entitled to copyright protection. That ruling, along with Tuesday\u2019s decision, \u201crun counter to decades of software industry practice,\u201d according to Meredith Rose, policy counsel at Public Knowledge. The group submitted legal arguments supporting Google. It \u201ccould have devastating effects on the competitiveness, openness, and development of the technology industry,\u201d Rose said in a statement. \u201cThis could lead to higher prices, fewer choices, and worse products for consumers.\u201d Java was created by Sun Microsystems Inc. in the 1990s, and some have accused Oracle of violating Sun\u2019s pledge to ensure that Java is widely available. Oracle bought Sun in January 2010 for $7.4 billion and sued Google fewer than eight months later. Part of Google\u2019s defense focused on the idea that Java was developed for desktop computers, while Android was created for phones and other mobile devices. Oracle sought to extend the case to desktops, where Android is now available, but the trial judge said he wanted to keep the case narrowly focused. The case is Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., 17-1118, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The trial court case is Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., 10cv3561, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (San Francisco).