To the surprise of nobody who was actually familiar with the underlying law and precedent, the judge in the Oracle-vs.-Google mega-lawsuit ruled today that Oracle’s claim of copyright protection on the Java APIs is contrary to law.
This means Oracle’s claims against Google are toast. Their best case is now that they’ll get $300K in statutory damages for two technical copyright violations, almost noise compared to what Oracle spent in legal fees. The patent claims went just as thoroughly nowhere as I predicted back when the lawsuit was launched.
In a previous post I speculated that this lawsuit might signal the beginning of the end of the patent wars, as business managers wake up to the fact that IP litigation is usually a spectacularly expensive way to accomplish nothing. Today’s ruling, though it’s about copyrights, increases these odds. Here, as in the SCO lawsuit, copyright issues were pushed harder as what was initially a patent case failed.
My headline is admittedly a bit of an exaggeration; unlike SCO, Oracle still has a viable business to run. But the history and outcome of this lawsuit – huge stakes, shifting claims, apocalyptic press coverage all leading to a spectacular and humiliating debacle – certainly recalls the SCO lawsuit. It seems unlikely that many more of these will be required before corporate America gets the lesson.