It was the massive tech lawsuit of the century. Well, at least, everybody thought that initially, until database giant Oracle’s patent infringement claims quickly came undone in court and it ended up with a very minor victory. Last month, Google was cleared of most of the major patent infringement claims level against it by Oracle. The search giant was only found liable for having copied a few lines of Java code. Oracle got the rights to Java when it bought out Sun Microsystems, which originally developed Java. This is the only past of Oracle’s claim of copyright infringement that it won on. The more lucrative patent infringement claims were excluded. Oracle based its claim for 6.1 billion dollars damages on its claim on these five patents that were excluded before the trial proceedings began. Another major blow to Oracle’s claim was when the trial judge decided that Oracle’s Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) were not protected by copyright laws because they could not be copyrighted. This pretty much left Oracle with copyright infringement claim it won on based on a few small segments that were found in Google’s code.
Sadly for Oracle, this only gave them the right to statutory damages that would be worth a few hundred thousand dollars. Considering the huge amount of money already spent by both sides on attorney’s fees, the few hundred thousand dollars in statutory damages is a mere pittance. The real action is whether Oracle can resurrect its patent infringement claims on appeal. That’s why it appears to be moving quickly to get ready for an appeal by accepting ‘zero’ damages on the copyright infringement portion of its claim. The company has already said that it will appeal larger claims in the lawsuit. This include whether APIs are protected by copyright law. Considering how pervasive API usage is in a software development, developers and shareholders of software companies should keep an eye on how Oracle’s appeal progresses at the 9th circuit Court of Appeals.