Google on Thursday asked the Supreme Court of the United States to review the company's long-running copyright dispute with Oracle over the use of software interfaces.
With the move, Google is seeking to reverse a ruling that resurrected a billion-dollar copyright case brought by Oracle that dates to 2010.
Google urged the high court to rule its copying of Oracle’s Java programming language to create the Android operating system was permissible under U.S. copyright law.
A jury cleared Google in 2016, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed that verdict in March 2018 and set the stage for a jury trial to determine monetary damages.
"Standardized software interfaces have driven innovation in software development. They let computer programs interact with each other and let developers easily build technologies for different platforms. Unless the Supreme Court steps in here, the industry will be hamstrung by court decisions finding that the use of software interfaces in creating new programs is not allowed under copyright law," said Kent Walker, SVP of Global Affairs & Chief Legal Officer, Google.
The litigation involves how much copyright protection should extend to Oracle’s Java programming language, which Google used to design the Android operating system that runs most of the world’s smartphones.
Oracle is seeking royalties for Google’s unauthorized use of portions of the Java language known as application programming interfaces (APIs), which are tools that allow different computer programs to talk to each other.
Google has said copyright protection should not extend to APIs because they are essential tools for creating software.
Google has also argued that its copying of them is permissible under the fair-use defense, which allows unlicensed use of copyrighted works for purposes such as research.
Following a jury verdict in 2012, a federal judge in San Francisco sided with Google and said the APIs were not copyrightable.
The Federal Circuit disagreed in 2014, leading to a second jury trial in 2016 on whether Google was shielded by the fair use defense.
The jury sided with Google, denying Oracle’s bid for about $9 billion in damages.
The Federal Circuit said in its 2018 decision that Google could not invoke the fair use defense because it copied the Java APIs verbatim and “for an identical function and purpose.”