Google won a jury verdict that kills Oracle Corp.’s claim to a $9 billion slice of the search giant’s Android phone business.
Oracle contended that Google needed a license to use its Java programming language to develop Android, the operating system in 80 percent of the world’s mobile devices. Jurors in San Francisco federal court on Thursday rejected that argument and concluded Google made fair use of the code under copyright law.
A decision against Google had the potential to give significantly more weight to software copyrights, and to spur litigation to protect those added rights. Oracle — which started the trial at an advantage with the judge explaining that it had already been established that Google had infringed Oracle’s copyrights — plans to appeal, though legal experts said overturning a jury verdict will be difficult.
Google relied on witnesses including former Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt, who is now chairman of parent company Alphabet Inc., to convince jurors that it used Java to innovate, rather than merely copy code. Before joining Google, Schmidt worked at Sun Microsystems developing and marketing Java. Oracle acquired Sun in 2010 and Schmidt was involved in Google’s failed licensing negotiations that spurred the copyright-infringement lawsuit filed that year by the database maker.
Schmidt told jurors that, based on his “many years of experience” with Java, he believed Google was permitted to use the APIs — the shortcuts that allow developers to write programs to work across software platforms — without a negotiated license, as long as the company relied on its own code. Sun promoted them as “free and open,” and not sold or licensed separately from Java, he said.
Central to Oracle’s bid for what would have been one of the largest jury verdicts in U.S. history was its claim that Google has reaped $21 billion in profit from more than 3 billion activations of Android. Oracle sought damages of $8.8 billion, plus $475 million in what it claims was lost licensing revenue.
“We strongly believe that Google developed Android by illegally copying core Java technology to rush into the mobile device market,” Oracle General Counsel Dorian Daley said in a statement. “Oracle brought this lawsuit to put a stop to Google’s illegal behavior. We believe there are numerous grounds for appeal.”
Google relied on a “free-market” argument, said Tyler Ochoa, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law who has followed the case closely since it was filed in 2010.
Google claimed it was within its rights to use the organization and labeling of the Java code to develop Android because programmers were already familiar with them, Ochoa said. Google’s message was that “Oracle shouldn’t ‘own’ programmers simply because they had taken the time to learn Java,” Ochoa said.
Ochoa was one of 41 academics who agreed with Google that the code at issue didn’t merit copyright protection and urged the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. The high court last year declined to take it.
“Today’s verdict that Android makes fair use of Java APIs represents a win for the Android ecosystem, for the Java programming community, and for software developers who rely on open and free programming languages to build innovative consumer products,” Google said in an e-mailed statement.
Oracle won a 2012 verdict that Google infringed its copyrights, but that jury couldn’t agree whether it was justified under the fair use legal doctrine. That set the stage for the second trial, featuring many of the witnesses from four years ago as well as the same judge, William Alsup.
Both sides leaned on powerful Silicon Valley personalities to put a shine on technology-laden arguments.
Oracle Co-Chief Executive Officer Safra Catz invoked the Ten Commandments to characterize Google as acting above the law. Catz told jurors that, at a bat mitzvah in 2012, Google General Counsel Kent Walker told her, “You know, Safra, Google is this really special company, and the old rules don’t apply to us.”
“I immediately said, ‘Thou shalt not steal,’” Catz testified. “It’s an oldie but goodie.”
Witnesses for Google said the company didn’t need a license for the Java’s application programming interfaces, or APIs, to build Android.
In cross-examinations of those witnesses, Oracle’s lawyers hit upon a disconnect between their testimony and selected e-mails while Android was being created. The messages showed Google executives and engineers were concerned that they needed, and didn’t get, a license for Java.
Google co-founder Larry Page was confronted with a 2005 internal e-mail posing the question of whether to drop the use of Java for Android or press ahead, “perhaps making enemies along the way.”
Page responded, “Obviously we didn’t do the first one.”
Michael Risch, a law professor at Villanova University School of Law in Pennsylvania who’s been following the case, said it will be difficult for Oracle to overturn the jury verdict because an appeals court will have to conclude the instructions to jurors on the legal issues in the case were flawed.
Before the verdict, Risch said the outcome was a “toss-up” and that it may not have been well-suited for a jury to decide.
“There should be a clear set of guidelines that allow companies to know when they may reuse functional aspects of another company’s copyrighted work, and submitting a fair use question to a jury fails in all respects,” Risch said.
The case is Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., 10-cv-03561, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
Unlocking Investments into Africa’s Renewable Energy Market
The African Energy Guarantee Facility (AEGF) is launching a virtual roadshow of free webinars allowing a deeper understanding of risk issues for renewable energy projects on the continent, and conversations around risk mitigation solutions. The first webinar will take place on Thursday, 23 September from 14:30-16:00 hrs. EAT.
The session will be oriented on how to get more energy projects from the drawing board to the grid. While the energy demand in African economies is expected to nearly double by 2040, and although the potential for renewable energy is 1,000 times larger than the demand, only 2GW out of almost 180GW of this new renewable power were added on the African continent.
Clearly not good enough! To improve the situation within the next two decades, new solutions need to be implemented urgently. De-risking and promoting private sector investments will play a crucial part of it.
In this 90-min interactive session, AEGF partners: the European Investment Bank (EIB), KfW Development Bank, Munich Re and the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) will share their experience and provide valuable insights on how they were able to come together and design practical solutions for investors and financiers of green energy projects in Africa aligned with SDG7 objectives.
Across Africa, the complexity of renewable energy projects and their long tenors hold back crucial energy investment. Tailored to the specific needs and risk profiles of sustainable energy projects, AEGF will tackle the investment challenge by providing underwriting expertise and capacity tailored to market needs.
The AEGF will significantly boost private investment in sustainable energy projects, both expanding access to clean energy and contribute to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals. The scheme supports new private sector investment in eligible renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy access projects in sub-Saharan Africa.
Shell Signs Agreement To Sell Permian Interest For $9.5B to ConocoPhillips
Shell Enterprises LLC, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell plc, has reached an agreement for the sale of its Permian business to ConocoPhillips, a leading shales developer in the basin, for $9.5 billion in cash. The transaction will transfer all of Shell’s interest in the Permian to ConocoPhillips, subject to regulatory approvals.
“After reviewing multiple strategies and portfolio options for our Permian assets, this transaction with ConocoPhillips emerged as a very compelling value proposition,” said Wael Sawan, Upstream Director. “This decision once again reflects our focus on value over volumes as well as disciplined stewardship of capital. This transaction, made possible by the Permian team’s outstanding operational performance, provides excellent value to our shareholders through accelerating cash delivery and additional distributions.”
Shell’s Upstream business plays a critical role in the Powering Progress strategy through a more focused, competitive and resilient portfolio that provides the energy the world needs today whilst funding shareholder distributions as well as the energy transition.
The cash proceeds from this transaction will be used to fund $7 billion in additional shareholder distributions after closing, with the remainder used for further strengthening of the balance sheet. These distributions will be in addition to our shareholder distributions in the range of 20-30 percent of cash flow from operations. The effective date of the transaction is July 1, 2021 with closing expected in Q4 2021.
Shell has been providing energy to U.S. customers for more than 100 years and plans to remain an energy leader in the country for decades to come.
Oil Gains 1 Percent on Possible Tight Supply
Oil prices rose on Tuesday as analysts pointed to signs of U.S. supply tightness, ending days of losses as global markets remain haunted by the potential impact on China’s economy of a crisis at heavily indebted property group China Evergrande.
Brent crude gained 95 cents or 1.3% to $74.87 a barrel by 0645 GMT, having fallen by almost 2% on Monday. The contract for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) , which expires later on Tuesday, was up 91 cents or 1.3% at $71.20 after dropping 2.3% in the previous session.
Global utilities are switching to fuel oil due to rising gas and coal prices, and lingering outages from the Gulf of Mexico after Hurricane Ada that imply less supply is available, ANZ analysts said.
“While slowing Chinese economic growth and uncertainty around the (U.S.) Fed’s tapering timetable weighed on market sentiment, other developments still point to higher oil prices,” ANZ Research said in a note.
Still, investors across financial assets have been rocked by the fallout from heavily indebted Evergrande (3333.HK) and the threat of a wider market shakeout in the longer term.
“Evergrande’s woes are threatening the outlook for the world’s second-largest economy and making some investors question China’s growth outlook and whether it is safe to invest there,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.
While that view of the state of China’s economy is weighing on markets, the U.S. Federal Reserve is also expected to start tightening monetary policy – likely to make investors warier of riskier assets such as oil.
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