In an intellectual property case watched by the tech community for more than a decade, the Supreme Court ruled 6 to 2 today that Google’s use of the programming language in its Android operating system is fair use. (Google v. Oracle, No. 18-956, U.S. Supreme Court). In the underlying San Francisco federal court litigation, Oracle launched a multi-billion-dollar patent and copyright war concerning the use of the Java programming language in Google’s Android platform. When Oracle bought Sun Microsystems, it acquired Sun’s rights to Java. In August 2010, Oracle sued Google, claiming its Android mobile technology infringed Oracle patents and copyrights. Keker, Van Nest & Peters defended Google against all the patent and copyright claims, and also argued that the damage estimates were wildly inflated. Following repeated rounds of motions and briefing, the judge dismissed the bulk of Oracle’s copyright claims, and at trial the jury rendered a unanimous verdict in 2012 rejecting all claims of patent infringement. After an appeal by Oracle, the case returned to district court for a trial on fair use. After a two-week trial in 2016, the federal jury unanimously found that Google’s use of Oracle’s Java programming language in the Android operating system was a fair use. In March 2018, the Federal Circuit reversed the district court, rejected the jury’s verdict, and held that Google’s use was not a fair use as a matter of law. The Supreme Court today reversed the Federal Circuit in a sweeping victory for Google and Keker’s trial team.
“The court found Google’s use of JAVA transformative and established that reimplementing APIs is fair use. It’s a huge win for Google and for innovation,” said Robert Van Nest, lead trial lawyer representing Google. “We persevered through two jury trials, so today's win is special and rewards years of hard work by many lawyers and staff.”
The Keker trial and appellate team includes Robert Van Nest, Christa Anderson, Gene Paige, Matthias Kamber, Reid Mullen, Steven Hirsch, Steven Ragland, and Ed Bayley.