Oracle’s 10-Year Legal Battle with Google Gains Trump Admin Support

February 26th, 2020 12:40 PM

A trillion-dollar company could be in trouble for copyright infringement, according to a lawsuit from tech company Oracle.

Oracle, a technology company known for its database management systems, has been embroiled in a legal battle with Google since 2010. The company, which recently made headlines for a fundraiser held by founder and chairman Larry Ellison for President Donald Trump, maintains in a blog post that Google “copied verbatim 11,000 lines of Java code and then broke Java’s interoperability.”

The Trump administration offered support for Oracle with a brief on February 19 that the “petitioner’s verbatim copying of respondent’s original computer code into a competing commercial product was not fair use.”

The original lawsuit took place in 2010, when Oracle sued Google. "This case is about Google's use of someone else's property without permission,” said lead counsel Michael Jacobs. Oracle lost the first case in 2012, but later successfully appealed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit determined in 2018 that “Google’s use of the 37 Java API packages was not fair as a matter of law” and that the case was to be remanded, or sent back to a lower court, to determine damages. The APIs in question were used by Google in Android. In Jan. 2019, Google petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the Verge, asking the Court to overturn “a devastating one-two punch at the software industry.”

The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to Google on November 15, 2019. The Court set a date for argument on March 24, 2020.

The News Media Alliance, the Motion Picture Association, and the Internet Accountability Project also filed amicus briefs in support of Oracle. Meanwhile, tech companies like Microsoft and IBM, and social media companies like Reddit, support Google in this battle. Oracle argues that Microsoft had previously filed a brief supporting Oracle in 2013, and questioned why the company is now “completely silent” on the question of the copyrightability of interfaces.