Google loses copyright appeal against Oracle, may owe billions

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that Google’s use of application program interfaces (APIs) owned by Oracle is a violation of U.S. copyright laws, Reuters reports. The case was remanded to a lower court to determine damages. The ruling comes two years after a lower court ruled in Google’s favor, stating its use of APIs fell under fair use.

The ruling is the latest in a contentious legal battle that has spanned a better part of a decade. Oracle contends that Google infringed upon its copyrights when the tech giant used 37 unlicensed Java APIs to create Android OS. Google countered its use fell under “fair use” under copyright law.

When Oracle initially filed the suit in 2010, it sought out $2.6 billion in damages for the API use. When the case went in front of a jury in 2016, it recalculated damages based on the growth of the Android platform and upped its number to $9.3 billion, with $8.3 billion representing Google’s profits from Android.

While the court ruled that APIs are not eligible for copyright protection in the Google v. Oracle trial, a separate 2014 case tried in front of the Federal circuit court issued a decision stating APIs are indeed subject to copyright laws; the higher court’s ruling paved the way for Oracle’s most recent appeal.

In response to the ruling, Dorien Daley, Oracle’s Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, told Digital Trends “the Federal Circuit’s opinion upholds fundamental principles of copyright law and makes clear that Google violated the law. This decision protects creators and consumers from the unlawful abuse of their rights.”

We reached out to Google for its response to the verdict. A spokesperson for the company said,  “We are disappointed the court reversed the jury finding that Java is open and free for everyone. This type of ruling will make apps and online services more expensive for users. We are considering our options.”

It’s unclear exactly what options Google has at this point. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case once already, but it is likely the tech giant will continue the appeals process for as long as possible.

Should the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit stand, the implications could be significant for developers. Programmers frequently use APIs to develop both new software and integrate different applications. Additionally, consumers could expect to see higher software prices and fewer options on the market.

Updated March 27, 2018: Added statement from Oracle. 

Emerging Tech

Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.

Biometric phone unlocks can’t be forced by feds, says U.S. judge

Fingerprint and face unlocks used to not be protected by the Fifth Amendment, but that may soon change. A judge in California has ruled biometric unlocking methods of all kinds are protected in the same way as passcodes.

Google Fi is getting support for the next-gen messaging standard, RCS Chat

Google has been pushing the development of the RCS Chat standard, and now it's finally bringing that new standard to its own carrier -- Google Fi. With Chat, customers will get features like read receipts, better group messaging, and more.
Home Theater

Smart speakers the likely cause of Chromecast Audio’s untimely demise

Goodbye Chromecast Audio, we hardly knew you. Google confirms rumors that it has killed Chromecast Audio, the inexpensive wireless music streamer that let people breathe new life into their old audio systems.

The most expensive Galaxy S10 could be the priciest Galaxy phone we've seen

Not long now; with 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.

Yes, Android apps can run on your PC, and it's easier than you think

Wish you knew how to run Android apps in Windows? It's easier than you might think and there are a number of different ways to do it. In this guide, we break down the steps so you can follow along with ease.
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…

Unleash your inner artist with the best drawing apps for the iPad Pro

The best drawing apps for the iPad Pro turn Apple's robust tablet into a canvas worthy of a true artist. Here are 20 of our current favorites, whether you're looking to keep things simple or take your art to the next level.

Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019: Complete Coverage

There's no bigger show for mobile tech geeks than Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain: where flagship phones are born and intriguing new wearables shine. And this year, where foldable phones and 5G are likely to dominate the news. For…

C you soon? Rumors swirl of a USB-C port on 2019 iPhones

While it's not been long since the last iPhones launched, rumors for the next iPhone are already surfacing. Apple's 2019 flagship could include a variety of upgrades ranging from a new design to enhanced features.

The Note 8 and S8 range now have access to the Android Pie beta

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.

The Motorola Razr may return as a foldable phone — for $1,500

The Motorola Razr V3 is one of the world's most iconic phones, and it could be making a stylistic return in the form of a foldable Motorola smartphone -- but it may cost around $1,500. Is the nostalgia worth it?

The iPhone XS Battery Case's battery has a smaller capacity than previous cases

Apple has been rumored to be working on a new iPhone battery case for the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Now, those new cases are finally here, offering seven hours of extra use for each iPhone and are available for $129.

Join the Apple club with our complete guide to switching from Android to iOS

If Android simply isn’t cutting it for you anymore, then you might be considering Apple’s warm embrace. Here’s how to make the switch from Android to iOS without losing your contacts, sleep, or hair!