Oracle’s suit against Google has been brought back to life by a federal appeals court. The underlying lawsuit involved Google’s unlicensed use of Java APIs as part of Android.
Oracle originally sought nearly $9 billion in damages from Google. There have now been two trials and two appeals. Google won both times at trial, and Oracle has won twice on appeal.
In 2010, Oracle sued Google for patent and copyright infringement. (Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems and Java with it for more than $7 billion that same year.) Google won at the first trial on the theory that Java APIs used could not be copyrighted. However, Oracle appealed that question and won in 2014.
During the second trial on the copyright violation question, in 2016, a jury found that Google’s use of Java was “fair use” and awarded no damages to Oracle. Oracle appealed the 2016 jury verdict and has now won on the fair use issue.
The appellate court said that Google’s conduct was not fair use and so violated Oracle’s copyright. The matter has now been remanded to the trial court for adjudication of damages, which could amount to billions against Google.
Regardless of the outcome, the case is not over because Google is almost certain to appeal any award to Oracle. Accordingly, the case may wind up before the US Supreme Court.