Google, Oracle make closing arguments in Android Java retrial

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Google, Oracle make closing arguments in Android Java retrial

High-profile case draws to a close.

Google and Oracle have given their closing arguments in a multi billion-dollar copyright infringement lawsuit over the use of 37 Java application programming interfaces (APIs) in the Android operating system. 

The retrial is part of a long-running copyright battle between the two companies in which Oracle claims the use of the APIs, which it acquired through its takeover of Sun Microsystems, violates its intellectual property rights. 

However, Google contends its use of the APIs in Android is protected by fair use provisions of copyright law. 

Google successfully argued APIs cannot be copyrighted in a 2012 case, but the ruling was overturned by a federal appeals court that found Oracle could copyright parts of Java.

In closing arguments today, a Google attorney said Oracle's real reason for filing the lawsuit was that it failed in its own attempts to enter the smartphone market. 

Google attorney Robert Van Nest played a video of a speech by Oracle chairman Larry Ellison praising "our friends at Google" for building devices that use Java. Ellison then suggested Oracle should also build similar hardware. 

"They now want all the credit and a whole lot of money," Van Nest said. "That's not fair." 

But Oracle attorney Peter Bicks said it was Google that needed a quick way to build a viable smartphone operating system, and purposefully decided to use Java APIs without a licence as a shortcut.  

Bicks presented internal Google documents, in which company executives contemplated being "out of business in 10 years" if they did not quickly enter the mobile market. 

"They knew they were breaking the rules, they knew they were taking short cuts, and they knew it was wrong," Bicks said. 

The case has been closely watched by software developers, who fear an Oracle victory could spur more software copyright lawsuits over the use of APIs. 

However, investors see little risk for Google because the company could afford to pay a onetime fine, and the possibility of an injunction that would force the search giant to pay ongoing royalties to Oracle appears remote. 

Oracle is seeking US$475 million in actual damages as well as US$8.83 billion in "profits apportioned to infringed Java copyrights".

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