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Google wins in decade-long legal fight with Oracle

7 April 2021
2 min.
Google wins in decade-long legal fight with Oracle

Ten-year trial

The US Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Google's use of some 11,500 lines of Java code from Oracle for Android is fair use and does not violate copyright law.

Shares in Alphabet (GOOGL, GOOG), Google's parent company, rose 4.2% on Monday amid a US Supreme Court ruling in a decade-old case with Oracle (ORCL) in favour of Google.

Back in 2010, Oracle sued the tech giant, accusing it of stealing 11,500 lines of code taken directly from the source code of Oracle's Java programming language. Google denied that it had copied the computer program and only used Java's auxiliary code (application programming interface or API).

The majority of judges agreed that Google's copying of Java code as used was a "fair use of that material" and did not infringe copyright.

This Supreme Court ruling overturned a Court of Appeal ruling made in 2018. Android is currently used in around 70% of the world's smartphones and Oracle had claimed around $9bn in damages from Google.

Commenting on the Supreme Court ruling, Oracle representatives said that Google had used its economic dominance to pursue a protracted legal battle.

Google, for its part, argued that an Oracle court victory would ruin the software industry by creating huge obstacles for developers and forcing them to either "reinvent the wheel every time" or pay licensing fees to the most dominant software companies for the right to perform simple everyday tasks.

The trial with Oracle was one of Google's big cases, but the company continues to face antitrust investigations today, as well as threats of changes to its business model and business rules in both the US and EU.

Nevertheless, Alphabet shares (on the chart below) continue to show strong gains, up 98.65% over the past 12 months, hitting another price high on Monday.

Oracle shares were also up 3.3% on Monday despite the court ruling, continuing their 49% rise over the past 12 months and up 14.6% since the start of 2021.

Oracle posted better quarterly results than analysts had expected last month, with Oracle shares up nearly 10 per cent from the report to Monday's close.



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