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Fair use dispute at heart of billion-dollar lawsuit

There is good reason that businesses in Las Vegas seek protection for their intellectual property. Putting a trademark or patent in place can prevent a company from suffering from violations such as the theft of trade secrets. An ongoing dispute between Oracle and Google illustrates how vital it is to use protective measures – and to know when someone may be overstepping their bounds.

Since filing an initial lawsuit against Google in 2010, Oracle has discovered that the search engine giant has used its Android platform to rake in $22 billion in profits. Google asked the court to seal that information, though Oracle has used it to increase the amount of damages it is seeking from an initial $6 billion to now $9.3 billion.

The lawsuit is a result of what Oracle claims is a violation of its patents and copyrights regarding its Java APIs. Initially, a jury upheld the claim regarding copyright infringement but denied that Google had done wrong by Oracle’s patents. Despite affirming the copyright claim, the jury could not decide if the fair use doctrine applied to the case. A judge determined that copyright privileges do not extend to APIs, though a U.S. Court of Appeals overturned that idea in 2014.

Google attempted to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, though the high court denied even listening to the case. Now, a judge in California will determine if fair use applies to the copyright claim. As evidenced by this case, matters involving intellectual property can quickly grow complex. Anyone who has questions about this issue should consult with an attorney.

Source: Information Week, “Oracle Seeks $9.3 Billion Over Android’s Use of Java,” Thomas Claburn, March 29, 2016

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