Oracle has scored a landmark victory in the software copyright battle over use of its Java programming language in Android. A US appeals court has ruled that Oracle can copyright the parts of Java that Google uses in its smartphone OS.
Experts claim this could create problems for Google and their Android OS.
Oracle sued Google in 2010, claiming the search giant improperly incorporated parts of Java into Android. It is seeking around US$1 billion in damages.
The case, which began in 2012, featured testimony from Oracle CE, Larry Ellison and Google CEO Larry Page.
Analysts say the legal issues go to the heart of how tech companies protect their intellectual property.
The ruling by a Federal Circuit panel overturns an earlier ruling by a federal judge. The panel found that a set of commands to instruct a computer to carry out desired operations may contain elements eligible for copyright protection.
Experts say the decision will have a dramatic impact on software companies which will have to ensure their interoperable computer programs do not violate copyright. They will have to seek costly legal opinions on what is permissible when developing these types of programs.
The case examined whether computer language that connects programs, known as application programming interfaces, or APIs, can be copyrighted. Oracle claimed Google’s Android trampled on its rights to the structure of 37 Java APIs. Oracle’s legal team called the decision a win for an industry that relies on copyright protection to fuel innovation.
Google on the other hand said it set a damaging precedent for computer science and software development and the company is considering its options.
The case is not over yet: the Federal Circuit panel ordered further proceedings to decide whether Google’s actions were protected under fair use.