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Oracle dealt critical blow in Android case as judge dismisses Java copyright claim

01 Jun 2012
Android and Java logos

Google has claimed another legal victory over Oracle in the two companies' legal feud over the use of Java code in the Android platform.

Judge William Alsup has declared that the 37 application programming interfaces (API) packages Oracle had accused Google of infringing up were not copyrightable, a verdict which will clear Google of a copyright violation verdict delivered by a jury last month.

The ruling also eliminates the need for Google's appeal in the case.

Alsup said that the findings only apply to the APIs brought forward by Oracle, not all software APIs.

"This order does not hold that Java API packages are free for all to use without licence. It does not hold that the structure, sequence and organisation of all computer programs may be stolen," Alsup wrote in the ruling.

"Rather, it holds on the specific facts of this case, the particular elements replicated by Google were free for all to use under the Copyright Act."

The judge said that the decision on whether the APIs at the centre of the case could be copyrighted had been kept separate from the jury decision on copyright violation in order to simplify the appeal process and allow higher courts to reinstate the jury's verdict should his decision on eligibility be overturned.

Though Google had been found guilty on copyright violation counts, the jury dismissed all eight of Oracle's patent violation claims.

The ruling is the latest and perhaps most important turn in the ongoing battle between Oracle and Google over the use of Java components in the Android platform. Oracle has maintained that Google has been using its code without a licence, while Google had argued that the components in question were free to use.

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Shaun Nichols
About

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for V3.co.uk. He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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