The US Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would hear a longstanding copyright dispute between Oracle and Google, as the companies have been entangled in a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit since 2010, with Google unsuccessfully trying to invite the court to intervene.
In 2010, Oracle accused Google of copying 11,500 lines of code from its Java programming language. Google, which used the code in its Android operating system and considered the use of the language “fair use”, won the patent suit back in 2012, followed by a copyright victory in the lower courts. However, Oracle appealed that decision, which led to years of legal battle between the two technological giants.
Google has been unsuccessfully asking the Supreme Court to intervene and examine an earlier Federal Circuit ruling which Oracle landed last year. The Supreme Court's decision to get involved could mean a temporary win for Google, as Oracle demands that the tech giant pay $9 billion in damages.
“We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to review the case and we hope that the Court reaffirms the importance of software interoperability in American competitiveness”, Google's Senior Vice President of Global Affairs Kent Walker said in a statement to The Verge following the news. “Developers should be able to create applications across platforms and not be locked into one company's software”.
In the meantime, a representative of Oracle, Deborah Hellinger, said that the company remains “confident” that the Supreme Court will make a decision in her company’s favour.
“We are confident the Supreme Court will preserve long established copyright protections for original software and reject Google’s continuing efforts to avoid responsibility for copying Oracle’s innovations”, Hellinger said.
While the case decision will be expected before July, Solicitor General Noel Francisco from the Trump administration earlier said on behalf of the Department of Justice that Google’s actions had caused “commercial harm to the copyright owner”, thus weighing in on Oracle’s side in the case.