Did Google Steal Android Code From Oracle?

Google Android KitKat

Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) is again pursuing Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) in court over a claim dating back to 2010 that Google copied Java code, which is owned by Oracle, when writing its Android operating system.

According to a report from Bloomberg, on Wednesday, Oracle asked an appeals court to allow it to move forward with claims that Google owes the company over $1 billion for using Oracle’s Java code to build Android. Google’s Android is currently the most popular smartphone operating system in the world.

Oracle is trying to fight a judge’s decision made in the 2010 case that Java’s code isn’t copyright protected because it consists of basic functions that are used across the industry for free and are necessary to developing software. According to a report from Reuters, Java is an open-source code that is supposed to be publicly available. U.S. District Judge William Alsup sided with Google, saying that Java’s APIs (application programming interfaces) cannot be copyrighted.

Now Oracle is appealing the case. Lawyers for Oracle claim that Google lifted “the most important, the most appealing” parts of Java’s code for use in Android. Oracle has gone so far as to say that Google’s use of the Java code stopped Oracle from being able to develop its own smartphone operating system.

Google says that the small parts of Java code it used are for functional steps, or simple actions like connecting to the Internet. The other millions of lines of code written to make the platform what it is today were original. Google says it could not have created a complete smartphone operating system by ripping off Java’s code.

According to Bloomberg, after the hour and a half of arguments, the court seemed as though it would side with Oracle, which could open up Google to billions of dollars in damages. Even if it is determined that open-source code like Java can be copyrighted and owners of that code can collect royalties from those who use it, Google could still get off the hook due to the fact that Java’s APIs make up just a tiny portion of Android’s code as a whole.

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS

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