The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington ruled in favor of Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL) regarding its petition to revive its copyright claims against Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) in connection with certain parts of the Java programming language used to develop the Android operating system.
The Court of Appeals ruled that the computer language that connects programs called application programing interfaces (APIs) are eligible for copyright protection. The three-judge panel reversed the previous ruling of a federal judge in San Francisco that Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL) cannot claim copyright protection on parts of Java integrated in the Android OS because they were free for all to use.
Court of Appeals reverses lower court ruling
The Court of Appeals disagreed with the ruling of the lower court and remanded the case with an instruction to reinstate the finding of the jury that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) violated Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL) copyrights on 37 Java APIs. The three-judge panel also instructed the lower court to conduct further proceedings to find out if the actions of the search engine giant were protected under the fair use of the technology.
Federal Circuit Judge Kathleen O’Malley wrote, “We are mindful that the application of copyright law in the computer context is often a difficult task. On this record, however, we find that the district court failed to distinguish between the threshold question of what is copyrightable — which presents a low bar — and the scope of conduct that constitutes infringing activity.”
Oracle seeks $1 billion in damages
Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL) is seeking over $1 billion in damages from Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL). According to the database-software titan, the search engine giant used its Java programming language without paying any licensing fee because it was in a hurry to develop the Android operating system.
‘Remand to decide fair use is pointless’
The search engine giant argued that Oracle cannot copyright the APIs for Java because it is an open-source or publicly available software language, therefore it did not commit any copyright infringement. On the other hand, the database-software maker contended that Google’s use of its Java APIs was not fair. “A remand to decide fair use is pointless,” said Oracle in a previous statement.
In a case of interesting bedfellows, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and other software makers supported Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL)’s claims against Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL).