Google’s Android is by far the most popular mobile operating system (OS) on the plant. According to Oracle, however, it’s built at least in part on stolen code. Oracle filed a copyright suit nearly a decade ago, claiming Google stole code for its mobile OS.
Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, the creator of the Java Virtual Machine (VM) in 2010. The Java VM is an environment that runs on a wide range of platforms, such as Windows, Linux, macOS and embedded devices. Java developers then create programs that run within the Java VM, rather than having to create them specifically for each platform. The VM gives developers the ability to “write once, run everywhere.”
Oracle has accused Google of copying 11,500 lines of Java code in its creation of Android. Two lower courts sided with Google, until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit handed Oracle a victory. Now, according to TheStreet.com, the Supreme Court “will hear Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc., granting the case a write of certiorari, or an order to review the decision of the lower court that originally ruled on the case.”
While one might think software companies would be rooting for Oracle, Microsoft and Mozilla are just two of a number of companies who have filed friends of the court briefs in favor of Google. Both have argued that copyright law must allow a reasonable amount of reuse of software’s “functional aspects,” especially to insure compatibility and interoperability.
Whatever the outcome, tech companies throughout the U.S. will be watching the case closely to see what precedent is set.