The verdict is in: Google didn’t violate Oracle’s intellectual property rights when it started to build its Android mobile operating system a little over a decade ago. The decision to let Google off the hook in a lawsuit that started back in 2010 was delivered by a jury of 10 in San Francisco Thursday; Oracle is expected to appeal.
At the center of the highly technical case was the question whether Google was allowed to use Java technology owned by Oracle to build Android.
Google maintained that its use of Java was protected by fair use rights because it used what’s known in the industry as a clean room engineering — a principle also familiar to anyone who has ever watched AMC’s “Halt and Catch Fire.” Instead of just copying lines of code, Google’s engineers wrote new code that did exactly the same as Oracle’s code.
However, Oracle’s lawyers had maintained that Google had illegally copied Java technology. Jurors didn’t agree, finding that Google’s Java implementation was indeed fair use.
Oracle vowed to appeal Thursday’s verdict. A win could have led to substantial damages for the company. Early on in the case, Oracle estimated that Google owed it as much as $9 billion.