Story in Brief:
The US Supreme Court has sided with Google, ending a decade long-dispute with computer software company Oracle. Oracle sued Google in 2010 for copyright infringement over Google copying 12,000 lines of code owned by Oracle for use in its Android smartphone operating system.
This decision found that Google was covered by “fair use” protections when it copied the code in the early days of the smartphone industry. Google copied the code to make it easier for Java developers to adapt their existing programmes to run on Android, which was an advantage to Google in its rivalry with Apple.
The Supreme Court made it clear that its decision about “fair use” was based on a matter of law, not just the facts of the case, so the position of defendants has been strengthened and future cases will be able to avoid a long trial.
This decision will give future start-ups the freedom to copy interfaces to compete with powerful tech platforms. Consider whether this decision will make it easier for competitors to enter the market, or has strengthened Google’s dominant position.
Consider the impact of this decision on Oracle, a company which has spent time and money over the past decade fighting this case and will not receive the expected damages of up to $9 billion, almost a quarter of the company’s annual revenue.