In a long fight with Oracle for the use of Java APIs in Android, the Supreme Court rules in favour of Google.

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A watershed moment in the history of device interoperability

The United States Supreme Court has decided in favour of Google in its long-running legal dispute with Oracle over the use of Java APIs in Android. Before the case reached the Supreme Court, the two parties exchanged jabs in lower courts for a decade. Oracle was claiming more than $9 billion in penalties from Google at one time.

If you remember, Oracle sued Google in August 2010, arguing that its Android smartphone operating system infringed on Java patents gained by Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

Google specifically copied approximately 11,500 lines of code from 37 Java application programming interfaces (APIs) “to allow the millions of programmers familiar with the Java programming language to work with its new Android platform.”

Arguments were presented to the Supreme Court in October, and on April 5, 2021, the Court ruled 6-2 in favour of Google. The court ultimately ruled that Google’s copying of the Java API was a legitimate use of the content.

According to Dorian Daley, senior vice president and general counsel at Oracle, “the Google site just got bigger and business dominance greater—the barriers to entry higher and the opportunity to innovate lower” as a result of the ruling. They stole Java and wasted a decade litigating in the way that only monopolists can.”

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“This behavior is exactly why regulatory authorities around the world and in the United States are examining Google’s business practices,” the executive added.

Meanwhile, Google SVP of Global Affairs Kent Walker said that the Supreme Court’s decision “is a win for customers, interoperability, and computer science.” The ruling brings regulatory certainty to the next wave of entrepreneurs who will build new goods and services for consumers.”

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