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Appeals court may reverse Google win in Oracle's Android lawsuit

updated 02:33 pm EST, Wed December 4, 2013

Court appears skeptical of Judge William Alsup ruling

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC, appears to be siding with Oracle in the company's lawsuit against Google over Android APIs. A formal ruling has yet to be handed down, however Reuters' Dan Levine and The Recorder's Scott K. Graham, both in attendance at today's hearing, published Twitter posts suggesting that the appeals court is likely to reverse Google's earlier win.

"Federal Circuit sounds ready to reverse Alsup and find Java declaring code was copyrightable," writes Graham, as noted by patent analyst Florian Mueller. "Panel sounded skeptical of Alsup ruling against Oracle on copyrightability of Java APIs," added Levine.

US District Judge William Alsup sided with Google in the initial lawsuit, ruling that the open-source Java APIs replicated by the company's Android operating system were not protected by copyright. Appeals court Judge Kathleen O'Malley reportedly told Google's attorneys to stop citing fair-use cases, however, and focus on copyrightability cases in their defense arguments.

Oracle had sought billions of dollars in damages for the alleged infringement, before losing the initial court battles. Google countered with an offer for a small fraction of Android license revenue for two patents in question, however Oracle declined the offer and pushed forward with the appeal proceedings.

Despite problems encountered by the jury in achieving a complete consensus, they eventually declared that Google had indeed copied Java code for Android but without infringing any copyrights. Judge Alsup's subsequent ruling was viewed as significant for the entire industry, indicating likely difficulty in pursuing copyright claims related to APIs in open-source software.

A reversal of Judge Alsup's ruling is expected to send the case back to the US District Court for the Northern District of California, where it may face a retrial.

by MacNN Staff



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