Google wins over Oracle

The legal dispute was about 9 billion dollars and went through dozens of instances: At the end of a year-long legal feud between Google and Oracle, the judges took the side of the Internet company.

The Google logo on an office building in New York

In a longstanding copyright dispute in the technology industry, which is being pursued with great tension, the Internet company Google has won a victory over the software specialist Oracle before the Supreme Court in Washington: The judges sided with Google with six to two votes and decided that Company did not violate copyright laws. The dispute was given importance in the industry. Observers said it could have a significant impact on the way software is made.

Both Google and Oracle had warned that if they failed, the technology industry’s ability to innovate would be threatened. Specifically, the legal battle revolved around Oracle’s Java programming language and Google’s Android mobile operating system. Oracle accused Google of improperly using elements of Java in the development of Android, thereby violating copyrights. These are so-called interfaces that allow different programs to communicate with one another. They make it easier for software developers who are used to Java to work on applications for Android.

The core of the dispute was 11,300 program lines and thus a very small part of the Android software, which consists of more than ten million such lines.

IBM and Microsoft sided with Google

Java was originally developed by the computer company Sun Microsystems, which even welcomed the use of the software by Google. The situation changed when Sun was bought by Oracle in early 2010. In the same year, Oracle filed a lawsuit for damages against Google for nearly nine billion dollars. The legal battle went back and forth for years, with victories and defeats for both sides. Google eventually called the Supreme Court. Both companies received prominent support in the case. For example, the technology groups IBM and Microsoft sided with Google, and Oracle received support from a number of industries in which copyrights play a major role, including associations from the music and newspaper industries.

The case was heard by the judges last October. At that time the court consisted of only eight instead of the usual nine judges. The newest Chief Justice Amy Coney Barrett was not yet confirmed in office at the time.