Oracle appeals Google patent and copyright non-infringement ruling

Out-Law News | 05 Oct 2012 | 5:23 pm | 1 min. read

Oracle has asked the US Court of Appeals to overturn a ruling made earlier this year that found that Google had not infringed on its patents or copyrights by using Java software within the Android operating system.

The software giant filed the request on Thursday. The Bloomberg news agency is reporting that Google will also appeal against decisions made in the case.

Earlier this year a district court judge in California rejected claims by Oracle that Google had infringed its copyrights in the way it had used Java application programming interfaces (APIs). Java is a technology that allows programmers to write computer code that will run in many computing environments. APIs enable applications, platforms and other system elements to communicate.

At the time judge William Alsup said that Oracle could only claim copyright protection in the specific way it had implemented code, ruling that programming language specifications were not copyrightable. He ruled that because Google had implemented the code differently – albeit to achieve the same functionality – that use had not been copyright infringing in nature.

A jury had previously determined that Google had been guilty of infringing some of Oracle's copyrights, but their findings were based on the assumption that Oracle's code specifications were themselves copyrightable, something which judge Alsup later rejected.

Google is to appeal against judge Alsup's decision not to "set aside" the jury's copyright verdict or to order a new trial, according to Bloomberg's report. The jury failed to determine whether, in the event that the Java API code was itself copyrightable, Google's use of the material was protected under the 'fair use' defence in US copyright law.

Oracle had claimed that Google required a licence to use the Java platform but had not bought one, and that therefore "without consent, authorisation, approval, or license, Google knowingly, willingly, and unlawfully copied, prepared, published, and distributed Oracle America's copyrighted work, portions thereof, or derivative works".

Oracle also claimed that Google was also guilty of helping other companies that utilise the Android operating system - such as mobile phone device manufacturers - infringe its rights.

As part of its case Oracle had also claimed Google had infringed two of its patents for the Java APIs, but the California district court jury ruled that it had not proven "by a preponderance of the evidence" that Google had infringed on either one.

In its original complaint to the district court Oracle had complained that Google was aware of its patent portfolio for Java having employed individuals who had formerly worked at Sun, the company from which Oracle assumed patent rights to Java software when it bought over the firm. It claimed Google's distribution of Android had "injured" it and that Google was therefore liable for infringement of the patents.

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