Federal Circuit Reinstates Oracle's Multi-Billion Dollar Copyright Infringement Case Against Google

March.27.2018

The Federal Circuit today reinstated Oracle’s long-running lawsuit against Google for copying its prized Java technology and ordered a new trial on damages, adopting the central arguments developed by an Orrick appellate team and Oracle’s in-house legal department. A three-judge Federal Circuit panel unanimously overturned a 2016 jury verdict, rejecting Google’s argument that it was fair use for Google to copy Oracle’s Java software code into Google’s Android operating system.

“Google’s copying and use of this particular code was not fair as a matter of law,” the court wrote. “We conclude that allowing Google to commercially exploit Oracle’s work will not advance the purposes of copyright in this case …. There is nothing fair about taking a copyrighted work verbatim and using it for the same purpose and function as the original in a competing platform.”

The decision was the second critical Federal Circuit ruling secured by Oracle and our appellate team -- led by partner Josh Rosenkranz -- in the copyright infringement litigation against Google. The Federal Circuit in 2014 found Oracle’s software code entitled to copyright protection, thus leading to a 2016 trial on whether Google’s copying of Oracle’s Java code amounted to fair use of the technology.

The Federal Circuit today found that it was not, a stunning rebuke to Google in one of the most closely-watched IP cases in the tech sector over the past decade.

"The Federal Circuit's opinion upholds fundamental principles of copyright law and makes clear that Google violated the law,” said Dorian Daley, Oracle’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel. “This decision protects creators and consumers from the unlawful abuse of their rights."

The decision was widely covered in the media, including The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The American Lawyer, Law360 and Reuters.

In addition to Josh, the Orrick appellate team included partners Peter Bicks, Annette Hurst, Lisa Simpson, Andrew Silverman, Mark Davies, Kelsi Corkran, and Mel Bostwick, as well as associates Matthew Bush and Jeremy Peterman.