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Sorry, Oracle: Google Won


Oracle lost its patent case against Google. The whole software industry just dodged a bullet.

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL The battle of the Larrys is over although Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Google CEO Larry Page didn't argue their points in person.

The long and complicated patent case between Oracle (ORCL) and Google (GOOG) ended in Google's favor. The case stretches back to 2010, when Oracle, having bought Sun Microsystems, alleged that Google had violated Sun's intellectual property when it used Java APIs without a license for Android. Oracle had initially sought billions of dollars, or even a cut of Android's profits in damages.

The jury did find that Google infringed on Oracle's copyrights by its use of 37 Java APIs, but didn't return a unanimous verdict on whether it was fair use. They also found Google guilty of stealing nine lines of rangeCheck code.

Judge Alsup said that it was the "height of ridiculousness" that Oracle expected hundreds of millions of dollars for those nine lines of code. Oracle is only entitled to a maximum of $150,000 for each count of this minor infringement. The judge also found Google guilty of stealing code for Java test files in Android.

The jury has been dismissed, and the judge will soon make his final ruling.

Implications for the Future

APIs (Application Programming Interface) allow applications to talk to one another. When you click a Facebook (FB) "Like" button on a website or log into a service by using a third party passport such as your Twitter account, you are able to do so thanks to APIs. APIs have pretty much always been treated as free to use without a license by the software industry. Free APIs allow software engineers to develop dynamic interoperable programs without fearing legal retribution.

Many feared that patent trolls would be emboldened by an Oracle victory, forcing software firms to buy expensive licenses, acquire defensive patents, or spend valuable time designing around copyrighted functions. Now that it seems that the jury took Google's side (despite some damning evidence that Oracle's lawyers dredged up, proving that Google knew that it needed a license if it wanted to play nice), the chilling effect is directed towards the litigants.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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