Just when you thought the lawsuit between Oracle and Google over Google’s use of Java in Android couldn’t get any weirder, the second court in the process has just thrown a wrench into the whole ordeal. Judge Kathleen M. O’Malley of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued an opinion today in the appeal of that ongoing litigation, and in it she essentially reverses a great deal of what the district court jury determined.
Taking a step back in time for a moment, you may recall last year when a Northern California district court ruled that Google had not committed 37 counts of copyright infringement in its replication of the Java APIs. That court did rule that Google had infringed in the case of eight decompiled security packages and in the case of the rangeCheck function, but then the jury deadlocked on the argument of fair use from Google.
(Related: The previous chapter of this saga)
Today, things got even messier. O’Malley and her two fellow jurists, S. Jay Plager and Richard G. Taranto, ruled that Google had, in fact, infringed Oracle’s copyrights in its replication of 37 Java APIs. The court also upheld the existing infringement claims related to the eight packages Google decompiled and replicated.
O’Malley’s written opinion leaves little to the imagination and explicitly finds that Google is at fault. From the opinion, she wrote, “Because we conclude that the declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization of the API packages are entitled to copyright protection, we reverse the district court’s copyrightability determination with instructions to reinstate the jury’s infringement finding as to the 37 Java packages. Because the jury deadlocked on fair use, we remand for further consideration of Google’s fair use defense in light of this decision. With respect to Google’s cross-appeal, we affirm the district court’s decisions: (1) granting Oracle’s motion for JMOL [judgment as a matter of law] as to the eight decompiled Java files that Google copied into Android; and (2) denying Google’s motion for JMOL with respect to the rangeCheck function.”
The case will now move back to the court of Judge William Alsup, which will reconsider Google’s fair use claims. Google’s appeals, however, appear to be stalled out here. It’s a sure bet that this case is not completely over, but this is certainly a strong blow against Google.