In a split decision that all but guaranteed continuing litigation, a Federal District Court jury in San Francisco on Monday decided that Google infringed on the overall structure of software copyrights held by Oracle, but also said that Google had not violated other important parts of Oracle’s software known as Java.
The limited decision means Google will not have to redesign its Android operating system — which would have slowed the march of Android-powered phones that have steadily gained market share against Apple’s iPhone. Oracle had sued Google claiming Google violated its copyrights to Java when it built the Android operating system. With 300 million Android smartphones, Android is now the world’s dominant mobile software system.
Oracle, which is likely to receive only modest damages for the copyright violation, will seek to have Google obtain a license to use Java, something Google does not want to do because it could make Oracle influential in future versions of Android. In a statement after the verdict, Oracle said “every major commercial enterprise — except Google — has a license for Java.”