Top US court to hear key Google-Oracle software case

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Published: November 16, 2019 7:23:58 AM

The original jury trial ended with a jury deciding that Google's "software interface" did not unfairly use Java code, saving the internet giant from a possible multibillion-dollar verdict.

Google and a number of Silicon Valley allies also argued that extending copyright protection to bits of code, called application programming interfaces, or APIs, would threaten innovation.

The US Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a software copyright case pitting Oracle against Google in which billions of dollars is at stake. The justices allowed an appeal by Google to move forward in the case dating back to 2010 when Oracle, a major business software and cloud firm, sought billions in damages from Google over its use of Java programming language in its Android smartphone operating system.

The original jury trial ended with a jury deciding that Google’s “software interface” did not unfairly use Java code, saving the internet giant from a possible multibillion-dollar verdict. But an appeals court last year disagreed, saying the software is entitled to copyright protection. Oracle, which obtained the rights to the software when it acquired Sun Microsystems, had been seeking $9 billion in damages.

Google argued that Sun “applauded” the use of Java, and that the lawsuit came only after that firm was acquired by Oracle. Google and a number of Silicon Valley allies also argued that extending copyright protection to bits of code, called application programming interfaces, or APIs, would threaten innovation.

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