WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court wrestled at length Wednesday over a $9 billion copyright battle between tech giants Google and Oracle that has gone on for a decade.
But after an extended, 90-minute oral argument conducted by telephone in deference to the COVID-19 pandemic, several justices indicated their solution might be to send the case back to a lower court for even more review.
A majority of justices appeared to doubt that Google had the right to copy some of Oracle’s Java programming language to create Android, the world’s most popular mobile software. But they worried that a ruling against Google could set back software innovation by requiring costly duplication.
US Supreme Court justices peppered lawyers for Google and Oracle with questions on computer code and copyright Wednesday in a court clash which could have major ramifications for the technology sector and digital innovation.
Oral arguments were heard in a decade-old legal battle between the two Silicon Valley giants stemming from Oracle’s claim that Google illegally copied parts of the Java programming language to develop its Android mobile operating system.
The case revolves around whether copyright protection should be extended to application software interfaces (APIs), or the bit of code that allow programs and apps to work together, and if so, whether Google’s implementation was a “fair use” of copyrighted material.
In the court session held remotely, Google attorney Thomas Goldstein argued that the practice of reusing software interfaces “is critical to modern interoperable computer software” and allows developers “to write millions of creative applications that are used by more