Back in May 2016, Google used its Google I/O developer extravaganza to announce that Android apps were going to appear on the search giant’s low-cost Chromebook laptops.
Awesome, right? Well, database giant Oracle, which had that very same day rested its (ultimately unsuccessful) case in its $8.8 billion lawsuit against Google, definitely didn’t think so, as Motherboard’s Sarah Jeong reports, and now they’re pushing for a do-over with a third trial.
The key to Oracle’s claim was that Google had violated copyright when it used key pieces of its Java technology to build Android, the most popular operating system in the world.
But part of Google’s winning defense was that Java is for computers, and Android is for smartphones and tablets, so there wasn’t enough overlap to prove that Google was actually hurting Oracle’s bottom line. The first trial had a hung jury on the issue of fair use; the second found in Google’s favor.
So when Google announced at Google I/O that it had been working in “secret” for “months” to put Android apps on Chromebooks, as Oracle’s lawyers put it — meaning that Android was coming to computers after all — Oracle didn’t like it much.
Oracle lawyers argued in federal court today that their copyright trial loss against Google should be thrown out because they were denied key evidence in discovery.
Oracle attorney Annette Hurst said that the launch of Google Play on Chrome OS, which happened in the middle of the trial, showed that Google was trying to break into the market for Java SE on desktops. In her view, that move dramatically changes the amount of market harm that Oracle experienced, and the evidence should have been shared with the jury.
“This is a game-changer,” Hurst told US District Judge William Alsup, who oversaw the trial. “The whole foundation for their case is gone. [Android] isn’t ‘transformative’; it’s on desktops and laptops.”
Google argued that its use of Java APIs was “fair use” for several reasons, including the fact that Android, which was built for smartphones, didn’t compete with Java SE, which is used on desktops and laptops. During the post-trial hearing today, Hurst argued that it’s clear that Google intends to use Android smartphones as a “leading wedge” and has plans to “suck in the entire Java SE market.”
Oracle originally sued Google in 2010, saying the company violated copyrights related to application programming interfaces (APIs) in the Java programming language. After a first jury trial in 2012, Alsup found that APIs aren’t subject to copyright at all, but that ruling was overturned on appeal. The dispute went to a second jury trial in May of this year, after which the jury found that Google’s use of Java APIs didn’t violate copyright law because it was “fair use.” Oracle has said it will appeal that verdict.