Had Oracle won instead, a cascade of liability could have meant every Android phone owner in the world was breaching copyright law
The Oracle v Google case matters to all of us, not just to the two software titans who have been battling over software copyright issues in the courtroom for the past six years. To understand why, it’s worth considering the cascade of liability that might have followed if Oracle had won the jury trial instead of Google.
Oracle claimed that Google’s reuse of 37 of 166 packages of the Java application program interface (API) in the Android software for smart phones infringed copyright. Oracle claimed intellectual property rights in that API by virtue of its acquisition of Sun Microsystems, the developer of the Java technologies, including the API. After a two-week trial, a jury concluded that Google had made a fair and non-infringing use of the API. But what if Oracle had won?