Google asks US Supreme Court to review Oracle case

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 25, 2019 10:48 hrs
FILE PHOTO: A Google search page is reflected in sunglasses in this photo illustration taken in Brussels

Washington: Google has filed a petition in the US Supreme Court to review its long-running copyright issue with Cloud giant Oracle over the use of software interfaces.

After Oracle acquired Java in 2010, it sued Google for using these software interfaces. Last March, an appeals court in the US ruled that Google violated copyright laws when it used Oracle's open-source Java software to build the Android platform.

"Today we asked the Supreme Court of the United States to review our long-running copyright dispute with Oracle over the use of software interfaces. The outcome will have a far-reaching impact on innovation across the computer industry," Kent Walker, Senior Vice President of Global Affairs & Chief Legal Officer at Google said in a statement on Thursday.

Claiming that it should receive $475 million in damages in addition to $8.8 billion relating to "profits apportioned to infringed Java copyrights", Oracle accused Google of illegally copying a key part of the Java platform into its Android operating system.

According to Google, with smartphone apps now common, "we sometimes forget how hard it once was for developers to build apps across a wide range of different platforms".

"Our 2008 release of the open-source Android platform changed the game. It helped developers overcome the challenges of smaller processors, limited memory, and short battery life, while providing innovative features and functionality for smartphone development," said Walker.

Google said it built Android following the computer industry's long-accepted practice of re-using software interfaces, which provide sets of commands that make it easy to implement common functionality.

"Android created a transformative new platform, while letting millions of Java programmers use their existing skills to create new applications," said Google.

Google has blamed Oracle for trying to profit by changing the rules of software development.

"Oracle's lawsuit claims the right to control software interfaces -- the building blocks of software development -- and as a result, the ability to lock in a community of developers who have invested in learning the free and open Java language," Google noted.

Java was developed by tech firm Sun Microsystems which was acquired by Oracle in 2010.

In 2012, the companies took the issue to court but the jury was unable to determine whether Google used Java application programming interfaces (APIs) fairly.

Two years later, an appeals court overturned the ruling and raised the question on Google's "fair use" of Oracle's technology.

In 2016, it was ruled that Google's use of Oracle's APIs was legal under the copyright law's fair use doctrine, "which allows the free use of copyrighted material under specific circumstances".

Oracle appealed the decision and the jury ruled in favour of the Cloud major. As of 2016, Oracle was seeking $9.3 billion in damages from the tech giant.