Update on Oracle vs. Google

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In the copyright and patent infringement lawsuit between Oracle and Google (we posted on the copyright aspects here: Copyright Protection for APIs and SDKs and APIs: Do they have copyright protection?), a decision was reached last week by the jury on the patent side of the claim. The jury has determined that Google did not infringe the two patents that Oracle held for its Java system. This leaves the Oracle case in tatters, with no real prospect of meaningful damages, even in light of an earlier finding that Google infringed Oracle’s copyright in the Java APIs. The copyright side of the claim is still muddled - the judge has not yet decided the issue of whether APIs can be the subject of copyright protection, and the jury failed to agree on whether Google had a “fair use” defence to the copyright infringement that did take place… assuming that APIs can enjoy copyright that is capable of being infringed.

Still with me? We might expect some clarity on the copyright issue if the judge issues a determination on copyrightability. What’s more likely is that the patent decision is appealed and the copyright decision is sent back down for a retrial, leaving the entire issue unresolved.