US Supreme Court could reshape industry with ruling on Google, Oracle

U.S. Supreme Court to hear Google bid to end Oracle

Supreme Court steps into Google-Oracle copyright fight

Google contends the appeals court ruling would make it harder to use interfaces to develop new applications. A USA court of appeal, however, had a different opinion and previous year referred the case back to a federal court in California that had to consider possible damages. Oracle is seeking damages that could amount to billions of dollars.

The nine judge panel on Friday issued a grant of certiorari (PDF), agreeing to hear the case over Android's use of copyrighted APIs owned by Oracle via the purchase of Sun Microsystems.

Google said its actions "prevented Oracle from locking in developers familiar with the Java language into building applications only for Oracle's platform".

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Google has said that under fair-use laws it didn't need a license for the open-source software.

Google said it welcomed the court's decision to review the case.

The Federal Circuit in 2018 said Google's incorporation of Oracle's "application programming interfaces" was not permitted under the so-called fair use doctrine of the 1976 Copyright Act, rejecting Google's argument that by adapting them to a mobile platform it transformed them into something new. "In the end, a finding that Google infringed Oracle's original works will promote, not stifle, future innovation".

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Originally published November 15, 12:19 p.m. PT. Update, 12:46 p.m.: Adds comment from Oracle.

Microsoft was among many parties that urged the Supreme Court to upend the appeals court ruling. If the Supreme Court rules that APIs are copyrightable, code that is free to use today could suddenly be subject to license restrictions. The Supreme Court had previously rejected Google's petition over the 2014 decision.

If Oracle wins, the case will go back to a federal jury in California, where the only issue will be how much Google should pay in damages.

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