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Google Dealt a Blow by Federal Circuit Decision in Oracle “Android vs Java” Case

In a decision sure to discourage advocates of open-source and freely licensed software, a three-judge Federal Circuit panel recognized that certain parts of the Java programming language are protected by Oracle Corp copyrights.

The decision stems from a suit filed by Oracle in 2010, which partly alleges that Google knowingly cloned 37 Java language APIs – “hooks” that allow programs to interact with one another, like Disqus and Facebook – in the Android operating system. Oracle argued that such “hooks” were copyrightable, and therefore subject to protection under the law. The company initially sought $1 billion in damages and royalties on every Android device sold. 

The Federal Circuit established in its decision that APIs and other parts of languages are subject to copyright, but did not determine the fair use issue at hand. Back in 2012, the jury had difficulty deciding whether or not Google’s use of the Java APIs were protected under fair use. U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled that they were, but the Federal Circuit effectively negated that ruling by ordering further proceedings on the issue.

Should Oracle establish a precedent, the consequences would extend far beyond Android. Programs make use of third-party APIs all the time; companies could decide to begin demanding licenses, increasing the expense of development. And the decision could open the door for copyright of the more fundamental aspects of programming languages, like “structure, sequence, and organization”  (terms Oracle used in its suit).

Needless to say, we’ll be watching this intently.

Via: Reuters 
  • fkn oracle what jews

  • HD Z

    The only logical court desision is to accord the vitory to Oracle. Google cleary is in the wrong here.

  • HD Z

    I fully support Oracle,

    Please stop using Java bottle neck. Maybe than we will not need 4ghz 8 core and 16gig RAM to play Flappy Bird without lag.

    • calculatorwatch

      Yeah let’s re-write Android in C!

      • HD Z

        Well Java is implemented in C/C++, so is Android. This is already done.

        The problem is that every application has to run inside that JAVAiiish sandbox. And standard applications (not games) are in most case completly writen in Java.

        • calculatorwatch

          Yeah but Java always has to run on a virtual machine so it’s inherently slower than if it was actually written in C/C++. Of course this also has its advantages as does sandboxing applications so that Android doesn’t end up with all the same issues as Unix.

          I realize now though that you were just trying to appeal to developers to try and optimize their apps instead of just writing them in Java. Which is fine but unfortunately we live in a world where it’s easier to rely on more powerful hardware than write more efficient software.

          • HD Z

            We made this world.
            This world where we throw money in hardware and useless court fees. We all go to work everyday to pay for those decisions.

  • WickedToby741

    Sounds like it’s time to fast track ART.

  • Kevin

    they wanted a billion dollars for each device sold? is there even that much money in existence?

    • mustbepbs

      “sought $1 billion in damages and royalties on every Android device sold”

      The power of reading comprehension.

      • Kevin

        i must be confused because i only ever read that they were suing for $1bil total.

        (see the reuters article)

      • Droidzilla

        It’s awkwardly phrased. It could read, “$1 billion in [damages and royalties] on every Android device sold,” or, “$1 billion in damages [and royalties on every device sold].” It’s a simple fix to rewrite as, “royalties on every device sold and an additional $1 billion in damages,” or something like. As phrased, it could go either way.

  • TheWenger

    One step closer to copyrighting code best practices.

  • bionicwaffle

    This is a total abuse of our legal system. Anyone who knows anything about this knows that the people at Sun who made Java *wanted* everyone to use it in every way possible. They congratulated/thanked Google on choosing Java for Android. Until now Android was probably Java’s biggest success story. Guess what Oracle. You just devalued your own product by huge amounts.

    Google should buyout Oracle, fire all involved in this lawsuit and the executives who let it fly.

    The judges are probably being paid by Apple.

    • Gideon Waxfarb

      They probably shouldn’t have sold it to Satan then 😛

    • Da Judge

      Or Google could just not (allegedly) steal code.

      • Kayonesoft

        They aren’t stealing code, they’re utilizing APIs. It’s a world of difference.

  • Guest

    Here’s to them.

    • HD Z

      G Stiviano

  • Brenden Keene

    Just buy Oracle already

    • JMonkeYJ

      Oracle is valued at half of Google, so that’s not likely any time soon.

  • The Dude

    Why is some judge who has no clue about programming/computer technology qualified to pass judgement on such complex issues?

    This is a basic flaw in our justice system. These things need to be decided on technical merit by a panel of experts.

    • Cowboydroid

      Justice is not a “technical” matter. Unfortunately, it has been made so by legislators, precisely to make it so complex that only an elitist class of “technocrats” can understand it, thus giving them control without the oversight of the People. Justice and the courts that administer it can then be abused without consequence.

    • P Huffingford Esq

      That’s what expert witnesses are for in a case. A group of tech “gurus”, each with their own agenda, would be no better solution. Especially since they are clueless on law.

      • Woodhouse

        Why can’t we have both? Legal eagles with tech background!

  • Stephen

    $1bil per android device sold? You’ve got to be kidding me…that’s about $1,000,000,000,000,000,000 total. Yeah right…good luck justifying that.

    • Nathan Borup

      You should really read this again…

    • I would re read that part again… that’s not what was written. lol

    • moew

      You should really read this again…

    • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

      After “Damages” pretend there’s a comma.

      • moew

        Who’s in a coma?

    • Nathan Borup

      @Stephen:disqus Just delete your comment or you will continue to be spammed by everyone that tells you to reread the article

    • Stephen

      Ok, thank you for pointing that out. Still seems awkwardly worded IMO — oh well.

      • Mark Mann

        Did you read it again?

        • jamdev12

          I think he did… or wait … maybe he didn’t. Never mind.

    • scotch1337

      Since people would rather be jerks than just correct your mistake. Here is what they meant to say.

      1 billion in damages, followed by royalties on every android device sold sold

    • MikeSaver

      has anyone told you to re-read the sentence again?

  • Bunklung

    The consumer loses again.

  • The Narrator

    Patiently waiting for Apple to jump in.

  • Guy Pierce
    • AngryBadger

      hahaha, yeeeesss. my fellow angry animal.

  • AndrewScottRox

    I get a little lost in these cases but it seems like a good defense would be to no longer make Android open source. Maybe if there were more control then Google could defend it a little more efficiently. I don’t even really know if that’s part of the problem but all of these lawsuits are amazing in their complexity. At this point, why doesn’t Motorola “go thermonuclear war” on everyone and say “we invented cellular and you are impeding on our tech. Pay us or cease your entire cellular manufacturing”. I understand that is pretty crazy and I don’t know if they can actually do that or if it is even a valid argument, but all of this seems like one big money grab.

    • middlehead

      Because much of what Motorola has that could really cripple somebody is now considered Standard, so they are legally compelled to collect only a “reasonable license fee.” They’ll get paid for a long time, but they can’t really hurt anybody with the core stuff.

      • AndrewScottRox

        Seems like it’s tough to be reasonable in an otherwise unreasonable world.

    • calculatorwatch

      The issue is actually with Java’s open-sourceness. If Google stopped making Android open-source, it wouldn’t effect Oracle’s insistence that they are owed money for using java copyrights. It might even give them more reason to seek damages, because now Google is essentially calling the software theirs.

      I agree with everything else you said though, software litigation needs a major overhaul. At this point all it does is stifle innovation and give more money to those that already have it.

    • Brandon Franklin

      I think Motorola already does that.

  • bogy25

    I wish Google and Android would just patent every single thing they create going forward and stifle the competition into oblivion. Take the few hits they are getting now then payback later on when the rest of the world is on 2009 technology.

    • moew

      Nice avatar!

      • bogy25

        Thanks man – yeah those two girls are my dream …besides the demise of apple. Not sure which one I want more…sad 🙁

        • moew

          Oh, I was hoping you would share some more details about them. Fine be stingy! 🙂

          • Blue Sun

            I have wondered what the back story is on that avatar too.

          • moew

            I’d like to report on that back. rawr

          • AngryBadger

            One of ’em is Jenn Sterger.

          • bogy25

            I love it that my Avatar is on DL like this – brings a tear to my eye (check mark off my ‘things to accomplish in life’ list)

          • moew

            upboated sir

          • Jonathan Williams

            That’s where Jameis Winston should’ve gotten his crabs from instead of Publix.

          • moew

            AngryBadger, our paths cross once again! Thanks for the info fellow Badger!

          • AngryBadger

            Not a problem. I needed a break from all the number crunching.

          • Gideon Waxfarb

            Just give me 3 minutes…. 2 if they’re already wet 😛

    • Yea thats the same thing I thought back when this lawsuit stuff started happening. Google just needs to start patenting everything they create.

      • Ian

        They already do…

      • michael arazan

        Or remove it from open source, and charge only $1 to their partners, and EFF everyone else.

    • JMonkeYJ

      That sounds truly horrible. I hope the patent system isn’t so broken that it comes to that.

      • Adrynalyne

        Copyright != patent.

        • professor p

          JMonkeyYJ != rocket surgeon.

          • Adrynalyne

            Common mistake. There is always someone who makes it with these discussions.

        • JMonkeYJ

          The OP was talking about patents. That’s why I replied to them and not the main article 🙂

  • moew

    Kellen/Kyle, you might want to remove the ORACLE logo from the article, or they will sue you next.

  • moew

    Oracle did the same thing to Sun Microsystems when they bought them. Told everyone that we needed a valid support contract to run the Solaris OS, despite what the licenses that shipped with servers said. AKA, you need to license something that was already “free” with their hardware, and pay even more money to Ellison.

    Haven’t bought a Sun server in a long time, and have ripped out hundreds of them. Oracle can eff off and DIAFJB.

    • calculatorwatch

      Oracle is the essence of evil.

      • Jonathan Williams

        More than Apple?

        • moew

          Apple is kid stuff compared to Oracle. But you should know that.

      • Jeremy Sheehan

        Amen to that – However, they do build some DAMN good databases!

      • michael arazan

        Almost all corporations are evil, destroy everything for the almighty dollar

  • Colton


  • Droid Ronin

    Everyone knows that if Android weren’t as successful as it is now, Oracle wouldn’t care.

    • XboxOne

      iOS > Android

      • BillySuede

        post. less.

    • michael arazan

      So is Oracle going to track down all the users that downloaded Java code from Sun back in the day for free from their website and sue them as well. A lot of people used the code to create tons of stuff including games.

  • p4

    google map’s map of the united states looks like one that i drew back in kindergarten! time to sue!

  • TopXKiller

    This is why we can’t have nice things

    • Maxim∑

      Oracle is the reason why you even had the opportunity to have this nice thing

      • Jeremy Sheehan

        Incorrect. Sun Microsystems is the creator of Java. Oracle, like many of the tech giants, gobbled up Sun a few years back.

        • Maxim∑

          And Oracle has done nothing with their acquisition?

          • ordo

            They did do something. They ruined it just like how they messed up VirtualBox.

          • Jeremy Sheehan

            I was just responding to how you worded your comment. Oracle is not the reason we have Java. Sun Microsystems is. They created it.

            Android was started before Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems and even then, Google had the full blessing from Sun’s CEO at the time (the name escapes me) for using Java on the Android platform. His concern was with getting Java used more in a mobile platform. The whole problem start AFTER Oracle purchased Sun.

          • MH

            I believe you’re correct, however Oracle’s lawyers state otherwise.