U.S. jury finds Google didn’t need Oracle license for Android’s Java code, defeating $9 billion claim; Oracle vows appeal

“Google won a jury verdict that kills Oracle Corp.’s claim to a $9 billion slice of the search giant’s Android phone business,” Joel Rosenblatt reports for Bloomberg. “Oracle contended that Google needed a license to use its Java programming language to develop Android, the operating system in 80 percent of the world’s mobile devices. Jurors in San Francisco federal court on Thursday rejected that argument and concluded Google made fair use of the code under copyright law.”

“Oracle — which started the trial at an advantage with the judge explaining that it had already been established that Google had infringed Oracle’s copyrights — plans to appeal, though legal experts said overturning a jury verdict will be difficult,” Rosenblatt reports. “Google relied on witnesses including former Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt, who is now chairman of parent company Alphabet Inc., to convince jurors that it used Java to innovate, rather than merely copy code. Before joining Google, Schmidt worked at Sun Microsystems developing and marketing Java. Oracle acquired Sun in 2010 and Schmidt was involved in Google’s failed licensing negotiations that spurred the copyright-infringement lawsuit filed that year by the database maker.”

“Central to Oracle’s bid for what would have been one of the largest jury verdicts in U.S. history was its claim that Google has reaped $21 billion in profit from more than 3 billion activations of Android. Oracle sought damages of $8.8 billion, plus $475 million in what it claims was lost licensing revenue,” Rosenblatt reports. “‘We strongly believe that Google developed Android by illegally copying core Java technology to rush into the mobile device market,’ Oracle General Counsel Dorian Daley said in a statement. ‘Oracle brought this lawsuit to put a stop to Google’s illegal behavior. We believe there are numerous grounds for appeal.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Android is a BlackBerry clone that was hastily rejiggered to mimic Apple’s iPhone at the last minute. Obviously, mistakes were made and corners were cut, yet crime pays (Google, at least; the handset assemblers, not so much).

Here’s what Google’s Android looked like before and after Apple’s iPhone:
Google Android before and after Apple iPhone

So, the Android rush-job is a security nightmare. It’s also a fragmented morass. It’s too many cooks in the kitchen. It’s crap-by-committee, lowest common denominator junk. Apple’s iOS is to Android as a world class chef is to a kitchen full of McDonald’s fry cooks. Google may wear legal teflon, but their product is derivative, me-too, and copied – and everybody in-the-know knows it.

Those who reward blatant thieves by settling for Android garbage deserve their fate. Apple has already won this war by relegating Android to undesirable, unprofitable demographics. Android is the poor man’s iPhone.

Besides, who’d expect the “justice” system to fairly compensate Oracle for Google’s obvious theft when they’ve failed so miserably to do so for Apple?

U.S. Supreme Court lets Oracle press case that Google copied Java in rush to make Android – June 29, 2015
Before iPhone, Google’s plan was a Java button phone, Android docs reveal – April 14, 2014
Why Google really is evil – January 18, 2014
How Google reacted when Steve Jobs revealed the revolutionary iPhone – December 19, 2013
Oracle’s Larry Ellison continues Steve Jobs’ fight against Google’s Android – December 4, 2013
Steve Jobs: ‘I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product; I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this’ – October 20, 2011
Apple to ITC: Android started at Apple while Andy Rubin worked for us – September 2, 2011
New evidence shows Google may have directly copied Oracle IP in Android – January 21, 2011

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Tyler Lemke” for the heads up.]


  1. I love the silly Schmidt argument. You claim the plagiarized & stolen material wasn’t merely copied but “improved upon” and that makes it OK. So I suppose any writer’s novel or any composer’s music or any artists painting can be stolen if it is “improved upon.” (This of not the same thing as the Picasso quote “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”)

    1. Intellectual property law is beyond nonsensical. In particular, the scope of “fair use” is wildly subjective. Since it is a fact issue, it is within the discretion of the jury, rather than the judge (as with matters of law). Lay jurors who know nothing about either technology or the law are probably less reliable as fact finders than your basic Ouija Board.

      I don’t fancy Oracle’s chances on appeal. Jury verdicts can only be overturned if the judge made an error or the jury has no evidence AT ALL to support its verdict (in which case it is still the judge’s error, since the question should never have been submitted without a genuine question of fact).

      Distrusting juries is why most infringement suits get settled prior to trial, even if the claim (or defense) looks ridiculous on its face. Oracle may have figured that juries in San Francisco would be more sophisticated than juries in Marshall, Texas. Bad guess.

      1. And where is your evidence that the jurors who made this silly decision give a flip who goes to the White House? Or that a federal judge who holds office for life is subject to political pressure from a lame-duck president?

        1. That presupposes that judges are untouchable and immune to ideological and other pressures, regardless of their terms of service, and that jurors are similarly immune from the acidic political climate. You may have noticed that few MDN commenters believe that fairness and impartiality hold sway in the courtroom; it may be their own biases operating, but lobbying clearly has an effect on legislators and is naturally suspected as having an effect on the berobed as well.

          1. Of course judges are subject to ideological pressures, but federal judges with a lifetime appointment and vested pension are substantially immune from political pressure; they have nothing to lose. Judge Alsup is 71, so there is no prospect that he will ever get an appointment to a higher court, so he has nothing to gain, either.

            Alsup clerked for William O. Douglas, so one might assume he is a liberal (although Douglas was a maverick), but he is also a Jackson-born graduate of Mississippi State University, which argues otherwise. I suspect that Alsup, like Douglas and most judges, decides cases in accordance with the law as he understands it, and that his understanding is shaped by his overall judicial philosophy, but that is a long way from saying that he votes the Obama platform. Look at the voting profile of the recent Supreme Court justices; they do not consistently toe any party line.

            It is vanishingly unlikely that Alsup would care whether Oracle or Google gets more White House invitations. I cannot imagine that the jurors would even know, much less allow it to influence how they saw the evidence in the courtroom. To suggest otherwise is not just cynicism. It is cynicism grounded on ignorance. It reflects contempt for the rule of law, the alternative to which is the law of the jungle. Judges who deliver silly decisions are generally forced into it by a badly written or nonsensical law. Blame the legislators, not the courts.

            I spent forty years of my life in courtrooms, so I would be the last to suggest that fairness and impartiality inevitably hold sway. In jurisdictions with judges selected by partisan election, some decisions are influenced by politics. So what? That is exactly why those jurisdictions decided to elect judges, so they will be accountable to the electorate. Even so, their decisions have to be legally sound enough to pass appellate review.

            The jurisdictions with nonpartisan selection—like the Federal courts—have chosen another path. Policy considerations clearly affect outcomes, but those considerations are rarely dependent on party politics. There are very clear rules against lobbying a judge outside the courtroom on a pending case. The rules are often bent, but there is simply not the pervasive corruption of judicial processes that many people here think likely.

            Honestly, Oracle deserved to lose, because the whole notion of API patents is absurd. Just because the winner here was Google does not mean that the process was corrupt.

  2. Jury trials are overturned on appeal all the time. As a matter of fact, the first jury trial in this case was overturned on appeal. This one was run by the same judge that screwed up the first one, and he’s been doing it again–showing particular bias toward Google. Oracle will likely win on appeal.

    1. The first trial wasn’t a jury trial.

      It should have ended there. Judge Alsup learned to program in Java so that he could understand the case and even as a beginning programmer he could see that Oracle was wrong.

      Now a jury has further cemented it.

  3. This is good news!

    An Oracle win would have undermined open source licenses and paved the way for ridiculous litigation over APIs and interoperability between computing systems.

    Patent trolls are bad enough, I can’t imagine all the god damned ‘API provideds’ that would ssuddenly show up on the scene if this passed.

    That’s twice Oracle has lost now and I’m damn happy about it.

    You should be too.

    1. AMEN

      That’s the first intelligent comment in this thread.
      Google’s hate here at MDN is so extreme that people don’t even see how bad API Copyrights are.

      Still… APIs are considered copyrightable in one federal circuit. Google’s use of this API has only been declared fair use.

      The nightmare about Patent Trolls going to court has sadly not stopped with that.

  4. MDN really becomes mono-maniac about publishing again and again the same picture without understanding what a PROTOTYPE is. Does the iPhone first prototype say anything about its final form???

  5. the google phone was shown to reporters in various conferences and as COURT DOCUMENTS show the specs (i.e NO TOUCH SCREEN) was given to MANUFACTURERS to build (i.e this was not some early prototype idea in the lab ) :

    “Two years before the T-Mobile G1 introduced the world to Android, Google presented carriers with the “Google Phone — a device that looked a lot more like the portrait QWERTY Android prototype shown in early 2008…

    … The designs have surfaced in Oracle’s case against Google over Java

    … At that time, touchscreen support wasn’t a requirement ”

    this has additionally confirmed by Various Google employees like Andrew Munn who claim that the reason the early android was so laggy was that the touch interface was hurriedly written OVER the keyboard base after Google saw the iPhone:

    Andrew Munn writing on Google’s on Blog:

    “Work on Android started before the release of the iPhone, and at the time Android was designed to be a competitor to the Blackberry. The original Android prototype wasn’t a touch screen device. Android’s rendering trade-offs make sense for a keyboard and trackball device. When the iPhone came out, the Android team rushed to release a competitor product, but unfortunately it was too late to rewrite the UI framework.”

  6. “Android is a BlackBerry clone that was hastily rejiggered to mimic Apple’s iPhone at the last minute. Obviously, mistakes were made and corners were cut, yet crime pays (Google, at least; the handset assemblers, not so much).”

    I wish Apple fans would quit saying this. Instead, please look at the court decisions long established and upheld by the Supreme Court: general UX/UI designs are not copyrightable.


    And since then, EVERYONE has been copying UX/UI design concepts from EVERYONE ELSE. Example 1: this is why every Linux desktop resembled Windows XP and Windows 7 in the 2000s, and why they resemble either iOS or Mac OS X now. Example 2: this is why every web browser now resembles GOOGLE CHROME INCLUDING APPLE’S SAFARI.

    Apple fans of course disagree because Apple fans disagree with the Supreme Court decision and try to pretend as if it never happened. Sorry, but expecting Google, Microsoft and everybody else to pretend as if that court decision went Apple’s way is ridiculous. It is also why – despite Steve Jobs’ nuclear war declaration – Apple never accused Google of infringement in an official or public manner. They did not even do so in the Samsung lawsuit, which was more about trade dress issues than UX/UI ones. If Apple ever accused Google of infringement, Google would A) cite that Supreme Court decision and B) sue Apple for defamation. Everyone knows it, and it is just the bloggers who pretend otherwise. Just as Apple bloggers pretended that it was impossible to make a profit selling mid-range devices right up until Apple started selling the iPhone SE for $399, and just as Apple bloggers pretend as if the combined sales of Android flagships (i.e. Galaxy Note, Galaxy S, LG G, HTC One, Huawei Mate) do not equal or even at times surpass the sales of iPhones, which makes the claim that “Apple has the entire premium market” nonsense to be just that. Just as it ignores that Samsung, LG, Huawei, Asustek and a bunch of other Android OEMs are in fact profitable, which is why more companies keep making Android devices next year, and it is also why Nokia, Foxconn (and secretly Microsoft) have formed an alliance to make Android phones and tablets.

    It is time to end the nonsense. Both Android and Apple will survive and do well in the mobile business until something earth-shattering occurs to change it.

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