A US judge dismissed Oracle Corp’s copyright claims against Google Inc for parts of the Java programming language, knocking out Oracle’s prime vehicle for damages in a high-stakes legal battle over smartphones.
The ruling on Thursday from a San Francisco federal judge is the latest blow to Oracle in its lawsuit against Google. It is one of several intellectual property cases between tech giants over smartphones and tablets using Google’s Android operating system.
Apple is scheduled for trial in US courts against Google’s Motorola Mobility unit this month and against Samsung next month. However, Oracle’s lawsuit against Google, filed in 2010, was the first in the smartphone wars to go before a jury.
The case examined whether computer language that connects programs and operating systems — known as application programming interfaces (APIs) — can be copyrighted. In a trial that began last month, Oracle claimed Google’s Android trampled on its rights to the structure of 37 Java APIs.
Google argued it did not violate Oracle’s patents and that Oracle cannot copyright APIs for Java, an open-source or publicly available software language.
Oracle sought about US$1 billion on its copyright claims, but the jury deadlocked on a key copyright issue. It then found that Google did not infringe two of Oracle’s patents, which ended the trial last week before damages could be considered.
Meanwhile, US District Judge William Alsup had deferred a legal ruling on the ability to copyright 37 Java APIs until after the trial.
His ruling on Thursday likely ended Oracle’s ability to seek an immediate retrial against Google in San Francisco federal court.
Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger said the company would “vigorously appeal” Alsup’s order.
“This ruling, if permitted to stand, would undermine the protection for innovation and invention in the US,” Hellinger wrote in an e-mail.