The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing Google’s attempt to end Oracle’s copyright lawsuit

The U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday was considered whether to defend Google Oracle Corp has long been suing Oracle for allegedly infringing copyright to create the Android operating system that runs most of the world’s smartphones.

The summary court, following Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last month, downplayed one justice and heard oral arguments against the lower court’s ruling on Google, while Oracle sought at least $ 8 billion in damages. Arguments were made by teleconference over the corona virus infection.

An arbitrator allowed Google in 2016, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned that decision in 2018, finding that the inclusion of Google Oracle’s software code on Android was not permitted under U.S. copyright law.

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Oracle alleges that Google copied thousands of computer codes from its popular Java programming language without a license in order to create Android, a competing platform that could harm Oracle’s business.

Google lawyer Thomas Goldstein said in court that the controversial Java code should not be subject to copyright protection because “the only way” is to create new programs using the programming language.

“Language only allows them to be used,” Goldstein said.

GOOGLAlphabet Inc.1,460.49+9.47+ 0.65%
ORCLOracle Corporation60.84+1.34+ 2.26%

But Chief Justice John Roberts roasted Goldstein over that argument, suggesting that Google should still have paid Oracle for a license for Java.

“Safe cracking may be the only way to get the money you want, but that doesn’t mean you can do it,” Roberts said.

Judge Neil Korsch questioned Goldstein as to whether Google had simply packed up Oracle’s findings.

Korsuk asked, “Other competitors, such as Apple and Microsoft, have actually been able to come up with phones that work well without engaging in this kind of copying.”

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Oracle and Google, two California-based technology companies with annual revenues of about $ 200 billion, have been battling Oracle for litigation in federal court in San Francisco since 2010. According to intellectual property attorneys, the outcome of the case will help determine the level of copyright protection for the software.

Google claims that shortcut commands copied on Android do not guarantee copyright protection because they enable developers to write programs to work on sites that are key to software innovation.

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Although the commands may be copyrighted, Google stated that their use under the “Fair Use” Protection for Copyright Infringement may protect the copy that replaces the original copyrighted work. Google claims that its copy is “undoubtedly” transformative ” because it is “an entirely new smartphone platform.”

In 2018, the Federal Circuit rejected Google’s protection, saying that “a mere change in design (e.g., from desktop and laptop computers to smartphones and tablets) is not enough by law to qualify as a transformative application.”

Oracle General Attorney Dorian Daly said in an interview that if Oracle wins the Supreme Court its damages claim will be reconsidered and the case will be sent back to the lower court. Daley added that the compensation claim would be more than the approximately $ 8 billion oracle previously requested.


Judge Brett Kavanagh asked if a ruling in favor of Oracle would have the adverse effects that Google had predicted. Kawanak noted that it has been several years since the lower court ruled that Oracle’s orders were worthy of copyright protection.

“I don’t know if the sky has fallen in the last five or six years because of the verdict on the books,” Kavanagh said.

President Donald Trump’s administration backed Oracle in this case, which previously urged judges to reject Google’s appeal.

The Supreme Court originally planned the argument for March, but adjourned it due to epidemics.

The court currently has nine judges. President Donald Trump has asked the U.S. Senate to confirm Amy Connie Barrett, who replaced Ginsburg in the November 3 U.S. election.

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