For those who came in late, Oracle sued Google claiming that its developers used its copyrighted material in Android. The material in question were Java APIs which are effectively notes that developers used in framing the code.
The case has been going on since 2010, Oracle initially lost but had part of its case revived on appeal. The sole issue in the second trial was whether Google infringed the APIs in Java, which the appeals court held are copyrighted. In May, a jury found in Google’s favor after a second trial, stating that Google’s use of the APIs was protected by “fair use.”
Legal experts think that Oracle’s appeal is a long shot. The four-factor “fair use” test is a subjective one, and Oracle lawyers must argue that the jury’s unanimous finding must be overturned.
Oracle could focus on jury instructions that it viewed as improper, or argue that the evidence presented at trial was so overwhelming that no reasonable jury could have found in Google’s favour.
If Oracle wins it could create a mess for developers. The trillions of lines of code out there might contain APIs which developers could have used without thinking. Patent trolls could buy up old software, look for dodgy APIs in others code and sue for millions. That is even without factoring in the impact of Google having to sign off billions of dollars to Oracle.