Oracle appeals against Google in epic $9 billion Android legal fight

The clash of the titans continues. In court and out.

After a courtroom knockdown last year, Peninsula software giant Oracle is back up swinging, bitter as ever in a punishing legal battle that has stretched on since it sued Google in 2010 over Google’s use of Oracle programming code to create the Android operating system.

Meanwhile, Oracle has taken action against Google on other fronts, calling out its rival to authorities in the U.S. and overseas.

In the court case, Oracle has sought up to $9 billion in damages, claiming its competitor had reaped more than $42 billion from Android. In May, a jury handed victory — pending appeal — to Google, saying the principle of “fair use” allowed Google to use the Java code.

On Feb. 10, Oracle opened up the fight again, filing an appeal in U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

“When a plagiarist takes the most recognizable portions of a novel and adapts them into a film, the plagiarist commits the ‘classic’ unfair use,” Oracle’s appeal said. “Google’s copying in this case is the software equivalent of this classic unfair use.”

Because no Oracle court action against Google should lack a bitter edge, the document went on, “Google reaped billions of dollars while leaving Oracle’s Java business in tatters.”

Google declined to comment on the appeal.

The Mountain View tech behemoth has consistently argued that the Java code was free and open to all. Sun Microsystems, which created Java in the 1990s long before it was bought by Oracle, had no problem with Google using the code without a license, Google argued during the trial.

“We didn’t pay for the free and open things,” Larry Page, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, testified.

Oracle in 2012 introduced an internal Google email in court showing an engineer telling an Android team leader that the firm needed to “negotiate a license for Java.”

Oracle’s appeal — which claimed Google “copied the heart of Java” — demanded a new trial, suggesting the jury had erred.

“No reasonable jury could have found such copying fair use,” the appeal said.

On top of the legal action, Oracle has been attacking Google in actions before U.S. and European regulators, along with funding a watchdog group publishing highly critical reports on close ties between Google and the federal government.

In November, Oracle wrote the Federal Communications Commission in a bid to block Google from providing multi-channel video programming, referring in the letter to “Google’s troubling history of self-serving disregard for others’ intellectual property,” footnoting that statement to its patent and copyright suit against Google over Android.

In a December petition to the FCC, Oracle complained that a commission decision had handed the internet-services-provider (ISP) market to Google, although Google is not a major ISP player.

Oracle also briefed (paywall) European Union antitrust regulators late last year on changes to Google’s privacy policy in an attempt to complicate Google’s regulatory problems, according to the Wall Street Journal.


Photo: Oracle’s Larry Ellison in 2010, then CEO, now executive chairman  (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


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  • Makikiguy

    He just looks evil.

  • shonangreg

    This is like the lumber company suing homebuilders demanding they pay an IP tax for using their lumber to design houses.

    Oracle/Sun built their profit-making scheme into the original licensing terms. Now that Google has built an insanely popular OS, Oracle’s want to re-negotiate an old deal.