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Google cleared of infringement in Oracle lawsuit over Java

James Niccolai | May 27, 2016
The jury found Google's use of Java was 'fair use'

A jury in San Francisco on Thursday cleared Google of copyright infringement in a case brought by Oracle over Google’s use of Java in Android.

The jury of eight women and two men took three days of deliberation to reach its verdict. Oracle was seeking up to $9 billion in damages, making it a huge victory for Google and its legal team.

"Your work is done," Judge William Alsup told the jury after the verdict was read.

Oracle's lawyers sat stoney faced after the verdict was read, but shortly afterward the company said it would continue the battle.

“We believe there are numerous grounds for appeal and we plan to bring this case back to the Federal Circuit on appeal,” Oracle General Counsel Dorian Daley said in a written statement, referring to the U.S. appeals court in Washington, D.C.

The reaction from Google's legal team was also muted at first, though they stood smiling and embraced after the jury was led out of the room.

"We're grateful for the jury's verdict," lead Google attorney Robert Van Nest said later.

Judge Alsup said he wished to thank the jurors personally in the jury room. They announced they had reached their verdict just moments before they were due to break for the day. A previous jury failed to reach an agreement on the fair use question, and there was a chance this jury might have done the same.

At issue was Google’s decision to copy 37 Java application programming interfaces, including thousands of lines of "declaring" code, into its Android operating system.

Since the trial began on May 10, the jury has heard evidence from a parade of Silicon Valley bigwigs including Google's Eric Schmidt and Larry Page, Oracle CEO Safra Catz, and former Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz.

Google's message to the jury was that Sun intended Java to be free for anyone to use, which is why it made the Java language open source in the first place. It cited a blog post from Schwartz, congratulating Google on Android's release, as evidence that Sun had no problem with Google's use of Java.

Oracle's lawyers painted a very different picture. Google was desperate to get its mobile operating system to market quickly, they told the jury, and after failing to secure a licensing deal with Sun, Google went ahead and used Java anyway. They dismissed Schwartz's blog post as a way to make Android look like a win for Sun.

“They knew they were breaking the rules, they knew they were taking shortcuts, and they knew it was wrong,” Peter Bicks, an attorney for Oracle, told the jury in his closing statement.


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