A San Francisco appeals court ruled on Friday in favor of Oracle in its legal battle against Google’s Android. The court decided that the Java programming language could be copyrighted, despite efforts by Google to fight against the move.
Oracle had asked for around a one billion dollars over violating what it said was its intellectual property copyrights. Google used Java in designing its Android smartphone and had argued in court that the language could be ‘patented’ but not copyrighted. However Federal Circuit Judge Kathleen O’Malley ruled Friday that the material is eligible for copyright protection, meaning the company could sue for compensation.
“We conclude that a set of commands to instruct a computer to carry out desired operations may contain expression that is eligible for copyright protection,” Judge O’Malley ruling’s reads.
Oracle accused Google of copying parts of the Java language in Android using the structure of 37 Java APIs. In the legal battle’s first chapter in 2012, Judge William Alsup sided with Google that it didn’t infringe on Oracle’s copyrights.
Judge Alsup said at the end of the six week long trial that featured testimonies from the CEOs of both tech giants that “The Java and Android libraries are organized in the same basic way but all of the chapters in Android have been written with implementations different from Java but solving the same problems and providing the same functions.”
Since cloning APIs is a common practice in the tech Industry, Friday’s ruling against Google has started to worry some in Silicon Valley, citing fears that this decision will open the door to a flood of legal battles over code copyrights.
One of the major concerns is that companies would be able to sue for financial compensation over coding that has for years been largely open source and functioned on a number of different projects and products without infringing on patents.
The court ruling, in many ways, could be seen as a watershed for large companies who have seen much of their work be taken and innovated and advanced to work on a myriad number of products and devices.
At the heart of the matter will be the battle for copyrights of code, which could send shockwaves between companies who have long worked with existing code and ideas but have created strikingly different items.