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Oracle and Google face off in $9 billion retrial over Java use in Android

Oracle and Google returned to court on Tuesday for a $9 billion copyright retrial over Google's use of Java in its Android mobile OS.

Oracle is claiming that Google violated the copyright it holds on the Java programming language by using it to develop Android. Google on the other hand believes that it had every right to use Java without compensating the company because its use of Java is covered under the fair-use provision in US copyright law.

Both companies went to court to settle the dispute previously in 2012 but the case ended with a deadlocked jury. If Oracle is able to convince the jury in the retrial that it is entitled to compensation by Google, then the company's request for $9 billion in damages may be reconsidered.

This case is being followed closely by many software developers who believe that a win for Oracle could result in a surge of new software copyright lawsuits. Google investors however are not worried since its parent company Alphabet could easily afford to pay a one-off fine to bring the lawsuit to an end. The possibility that the company may have to pay ongoing royalties to Oracle is also unlikely.

Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt appeared in court on Tuesday and testified that he firmly believed that Google was well within its rights to freely use Java. In 1995, when Java was unveiled, it was done so personally by Schmidt, who was a top executive at Sun Microsystems during the creation of the programming language.

Oracle attorney Peter Bicks went on to argue that it was impossible for the company's use of Java to be covered under US copyright law's fair use provision since so many Android devices have been sold which translates directly into revenue for Google.

Google attorney Robert Van Nest responded by claiming that fair use still applies when a company earns money from that use as long as something innovative was added to the original content making it something new entirely.

Image Credit: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.