Alphabet’s Google got a mixed reception at the U.S. Supreme Court as it sought to overturn a ruling that could force the company to pay billions of dollars for copying Oracle’s copyrighted code in the Android operating system.
The justices on Wednesday questioned Google’s contention that it had no way to replicate the code without forcing millions of software developers to learn a new programming language.
Justice Neil Gorsuch told Google’s lawyer that Apple Inc. and other companies have “come up with phones that work just fine without engaging in this kind of copying.”
Oracle says it’s entitled to at least $8.8 billion in damages. A jury found that Google’s code copying was a legitimate fair use, but a federal appeals court reversed that finding.
In a skeptical line of questioning, Chief Justice John Roberts likened Google’s actions to those of a safe-cracker. “Cracking the safe may be the only way to get the money that you want, but that doesn’t mean that you can do it,” Roberts told Google’s lawyer, Thomas Goldstein. “If it’s the only way, the way for you to get it is to get a license.”
Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggested she was was more sympathetic to Google. She asked Oracle’s lawyer, Joshua Rosenkranz, why the court “should now upend what the industry has viewed as the copyrightable elements” of computer code.
The Motion Picture Association, which represents the Walt Disney Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Netflix Inc., and the News Media Alliance, which represents news outlets such as The New York Times and News Corp., were among the trade organizations that filed briefs in the case.
The Trump administration also is backing Oracle.
MacDailyNews Take: Android is a stolen product in more ways than one.
I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this. – Steve Jobs
Apple won the war by relegating Android to undesirable, low- or no-profit demographics.
Hopefully, after far too many years, the courts will compensate Oracle at least somewhat for Google’s blatant, line-for-line theft.
U.S. jury finds Google didn’t need Oracle license for Android’s Java code, defeating $9 billion claim; Oracle vows appeal – May 26, 2016
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