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Google claims victory in Java legal dispute with Oracle

Google was handed a victory in its battle against Oracle today when a California judge found that the company was within its rights to use parts of Oracle's Java programming language in the creation of Android.

"Google has violated no copyright", US District Judge William Alsup wrote in his decision today, because "copyright law does not confer ownership over any and all ways to implement a function or specification, no matter how creative the copyrighted implementation or specification may be".

In a statement, a Google spokesman said "the court's decision upholds the principle that open and interoperable computer languages form an essential basis for software development. It's a good day for collaboration and innovation".

Oracle, however, pledged to "vigorously pursue an appeal of this decision in order to maintain that protection and to continue to support the broader Java community of over 9 million developers and countless law abiding enterprises".

"Google's implementation of the accused APIs is not a free pass, since a license has always been required for an implementation of the Java Specification", an Oracle spokeswoman continued. "And the court's reliance on 'interoperability' ignores the undisputed fact that Google deliberately eliminated interoperability between Android and all other Java platforms".

Oracle maintained that Google's implementation of Java "intentionally fragmented Java and broke the 'write once, run anywhere' promise".

"This ruling, if permitted to stand, would undermine the protection for innovation and invention in the United States and make it far more difficult to defend intellectual property rights against companies anywhere in the world that simply takes them as their own", Oracle concluded.

The case dates back to 2010, when Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, which owned the rights to the Java programming language. Oracle promptly sued Google for infringing on its Java-related copyrights and patents with its Android operating system, which was introduced in 2007.

Due to the complexity of the case, Oracle vs. Google was conducted in phases. Earlier this month, in the first phase of the trial, jurors ruled that Google infringed upon the overall copyright structure of Oracle's Java software platform in the creation of the Android OS. But they were unable to reach a decision on a key claim by Google regarding what the company called its fair use of 37 Oracle-owned Java APIs at issue in the trial.

Several weeks later, a jury considering the patent aspects of the case found that Google's Android operating system did not infringe on Oracle's patents.

"This order does not hold that Java API packages are free for all to use without license", Judge Alsup said today. "It does not hold that the structure, sequence and organisation of all computer programs may be stolen. Rather, it holds on the specific facts of this case, the particular elements replicated by Google were free for all to use under the Copyright Act".