A US federal court has overturned the jury’s decision in favour of Google from 2016.
Google’s use of Java shortcuts to develop Android went too far and was a violation of Oracle’s copyrights, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled Tuesday. The case – first filed in 2010 – was remanded to a federal court in California to determine how much the Alphabet Inc. unit should pay. Oracle had been seeking $8.8 billion, though that number could grow. Google expressed disappointment and said it’s considering its next steps in the case.
The dispute, which could have far-reaching implications for the entire software industry, has divided Silicon Valley for years between those who develop the code that makes software steps function and those who develop software programs and say their “fair use” of the code is an exception to copyright law.
“It’s a momentous decision on the issue of fair use,” lawyer Mark Schonfeld of Burns & Levinson in Boston, who’s been following the case and isn’t involved. “It is very, very important for the software industry. I think it’s going to go to the Supreme Court because the Federal Circuit has made a very controversial decision.”
This could be one of the absolute worst legal decisions in technology history.
Google will probably try to appeal to SCOTUS, yes. This particular court that issued the ruling has a tendency to tend towards copyright and patent maximalism despite SCOTUS contrary rulings.
That said, don’t hold your breath the SCOTUS will pick up the case. They aren’t required to, most cases appealed aren’t actually taken to the docket. But, I will agree this is an extremely important issue to the software industry. It depends on whether or not the SCOTUS thinks the legal issues are important enough or they believe the Court of Appeals erred in interpretations of the law for the justices to review.
I hope they take it up, but I would lay no money if they did which way it would fall.