Google copyright battle with Oracle could cost $8.8 billion

A federal appeals court revived a case related to the development of the Android mobile operating system.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
2 min read

The lawsuit is over the development of Android.

James Martin/CNET

Google just suffered what could be a nearly $9 billion blow in its long-running legal battle against Oracle.

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court revived a multi-billion dollar copyright case that dates back to 2010. The court said Google's use of Oracle's Java software went beyond the bounds of fair use when the Android mobile operating system was created, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The ruling overturned one issued in 2016. Now, a U.S. judge in San Francisco will determine how much Google must pay. Oracle had previously asked for $8.8 billion in damages.

The ruling is significant because it could have implications for how upstart software makers develop their products, as well as what kinds of licensing fees they might have to pay to incumbents.

"We are disappointed the court reversed the jury finding that Java is open and free for everyone," a Google spokesman said. "This type of ruling will make apps and online services more expensive for users."

The search giant said it will consider its options.

Unsurprisingly, Oracle applauded the ruling.

"The Federal Circuit's opinion upholds fundamental principles of copyright law and makes clear that Google violated the law," Dorian Daley, an Oracle executive vice president and the company's general counsel, said in a statement. "This decision protects creators and consumers from the unlawful abuse of their rights."

For Google, the investment in Android paid off. The software is now the most dominant mobile operating system on the planet, powering almost nine out of every 10 smartphones shipped globally. Beyond phones, Android is run on more than 2 billion devices altogether, including TVs, car dashboards and smartwatches. 

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