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Google asks Oracle to pay £2.5m in legal expenses over Java lawsuit

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison may be fuming over the $4 million (£2.5 million) Google wants paid in legal expenses following the headline-grabbing court battle between the two tech giants. The dispute was over Google's use of Oracle's Java programming language in the creation of Android.

In late May, a federal judge ruled for Google in a complicated case involving the Java copyrights and patents Oracle acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems in 2010. The six-week, three-phase jury trial was decided in Google's favour after a jury was unable to reach a decision regarding the question of what Google claimed was its fair use of 37 Java application programming interfaces (APIs).

Google filed a brief late on 5 July asking the court to order Oracle to pay for the legal fees the search giant incurred defending itself against the lawsuit. Among the search giant's claimed expenses was $2.9 million (£1.8 million) "spent copying and organizing" some 97 million documents for the case, the tech journal reported.

"Google prevailed on a substantial part of the litigation. [Oracle] recovered none of the relief it sought in this litigation. Accordingly, Google is the prevailing party and is entitled to recover costs," the meat of the brief stated.

Both Oracle's Ellison and Google CEO Larry Page testified in a San Francisco courtroom during the trial, adding to the circus atmosphere of a case that was seen as potentially pivotal in establishing rules for how free, open source and widely available software code like Java may be used by third-party developers to build their own products.

Oracle has stated that it will appeal US District Judge William Alsup's 31 May ruling.

"Google has violated no copyright," Alsup wrote in his decision, 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."

Oracle had argued that Google's use of open source Java APIs and a few lines of Java code in building its Android mobile operating system was both copyright and patent infringement because Android developers hadn't taken the proper steps to secure a license from Sun to do so at the time they were developing the OS that now runs smartphones and tablets.

In a statement, a Google spokesman said after the verdict that "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."