Software giant Oracle sues Google over Java copyright infringement

Computer programming powerhouse Oracle are seeking £6.53 billion in damages from Google, claiming that the internet giant has used its copyrighted Java systems in its Android mobile phones.

The threat marks a second copyright infringement battle between the two technology titans in recent years, after Oracle filed a near-identical lawsuit against Google back in 2012 to no avail.

Oracle argued that Google had infringed its Java copyrights, duplicating the “structure, sequence and organization” of up to 37 Java Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) in the production of its Android mobile operating system.

Oracle claims that Google was rushing to get their Android system out into the market before it was met with any fierce competition.

A Judge previously ruled that APIs were ineligible for copyright protection – a decision which was overturned by the appeals court and then later rejected by the Supreme Court.

This second round of proceedings is distinguished by the high damages report filed last week in California’s federal court, revealing that the software giant will ask for approximately £6.53 billion in damages.

The dispute has recently focused on trying to isolate the profits made by Google through its use of the Java API codes Android is based on, a figure claimed by Oracle’s lawyers to be $22 billion since 2008.

This case is indicative of the ever increasing legal complexity around using software made available online, especially where the benefit of such programmes is difficult to quantify. With this case in mind, taking appropriate steps to protect the use of software and control access to it is an essential requirement for businesses in the technology and computing sector.

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Maung is a partner in our Corporate and Commercial department. He joined Mackrell Turner Garrett following corporate law positions in London and in a leading regional firm in Essex.