Oracle suffers massive blow in Google case

San Francisco - A US judge on Thursday dismissed Oracle's copyright claims against Google over parts of the Java programming language, dealing a further blow to Oracle's quest for damages over smartphone intellectual property rights.

The case examined whether computer language that connects programs and operating systems - known as application programming interfaces, or APIs - can be copyrighted. Oracle claimed Google's Android tramples on its rights to the structure of 37 Java APIs.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. Credit: REUTERS

Android is the best-selling smartphone operating system around the world.

Google argued it did not violate Oracle's patents and that Oracle cannot copyright APIs for Java, an “open-source” or publicly available software language.

Oracle sought roughly $1 billion on its copyright claims at a recent trial in San Francisco, but the jury deadlocked on a key issue and could not consider damages.

Meanwhile, US District Judge William Alsup had deferred a legal ruling on the ability to copyright 37 Java APIs until after the trial.

His ruling on Thursday likely eliminates the ability of Oracle to seek an immediate retrial against Google in San Francisco federal court. An Oracle spokeswoman could not immediately reached for comment.

Alsup's written order does not address whether all Java APIs are free to use without a license - or whether the structure of any computer program may be stolen.

“Rather, it holds on the specific facts of this case, the particular elements replicated by Google were free for all to use,” Alsup wrote.

Despite the narrow holdings of the ruling, Google spokesman Jim Prosser said the decision upholds the principle that open computer languages are essential for software development.

“It's a good day for collaboration and innovation,” Prosser said. - Reuters