Oracle has submitted a written argument to the U.S. Supreme Court making the case that Google stole thousands of lines of copyrighted code, and with them, Oracle’s chances of competing in the smartphone market.
The brief filed Wednesday asks the nation’s top court to preserve the ruling of an appellate court that found Google committed copyright infringement when it copied Java APIs to build the Android smartphone operating system.
The document starts simply: “Google has a problem.” It goes on to say that Google “committed an egregious act of plagiarism and now needs to rewrite copyright law to justify it.”
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Oracle argues Google illegally copied 11,330 lines of source code that were meticulously and creatively crafted by developers at Sun Microsystems, which Oracle acquired in 2010, to deliver to developers one of the most popular application-building platforms in the industry’s history. The contested sections involve “intricate organization and relationships among the lines of code.”
That those “stolen” lines were part of APIs doesn’t change the fact that they are software protected by copyright statutes, Oracle says.
Google has repeatedly argued that Oracle’s claim that APIs fall under copyright protection could stymie innovation in the industry and have a chilling-effect on developers.
“Oracle’s position would undermine the practices that have helped developers build on existing technology and create new products,” Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesperson, said in response to Oracle’s latest brief.
“That’s why developers and businesses from across the tech industry have supported open software interfaces and opposed attempts to monopolize the creation of new applications,” Castaneda said.
Google has repeatedly noted that hundreds of companies, legal experts and computer scientists have submitted 26 amicus briefs in its favor in the case, all opposing the notion that APIs can be copyrighted and monopolized.
Last September, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to decline Google’s appeal to the court.
Oracle argues that Google wanted a development platform for Android—and could have created one with its vast resources. But Google didn’t want to lose time, or risk developers not wanting to adopt a new platform.
Google also didn’t opt to purchase any of the Java licenses Oracle offered because Oracle’s compatibility requirements conflicted with what the Internet giant wanted to achieve in the smartphone market.
“So Google opted to plagiarize and take the risk,” Oracle says.
Once that code found its way into Android, a product marketed to Oracle’s customers, it made Google billions of dollars of revenue while locking Oracle out of the then-emerging smartphone market, causing incalculable harm to its business, Oracle argues.
“While Google would prefer to live in a world unencumbered by intellectual property rights, in the real world, copyrights are an essential protection and incentive for innovation,” Oracle General Counsel Dorian Daley said in a prepared statement, characterizing Google’s actions as an “egregious act of plagiarism.”
Google is now trying to justify its actions by making “unsupported dire predictions” about technological progress and interoperable software, according to Oracle.
The U.S. Supreme Court is getting ready to hear oral arguments in the long-running copyright case between the two tech giants involving the world’s most-used mobile operating system.
The complex case has raged on since 2010, and already saw many twists and turns before a jury found in favor of Google only to have that decision reversed by a circuit court. That prompted Google’s appeal to the nation’s highest court last March.
Oracle at the time asked the U.S. Supreme Court to not review an appellate court’s decision finding Google violated Oracle’s copyright of the Java platform when building Android.
Oracle believes Google destroyed its hopes of competing as a smartphone platform developer with the Java platform, which enables development and execution of software written in Java, including through APIs that access a vast software library.
Google basically coopted Java’s “fan base,” Oracle has said in the past, “to create its own best-selling sequel.”