WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court revived Oracle Corp.’s ORCL, -2.37% multibillion-dollar copyright infringement claims against Alphabet Inc.’sGOOGL, -4.47% GOOG, -4.57% Google, in a ruling that could give fresh muscle to leading software makers but hamper upstarts developing new applications for computers and smartphones.
The court ruled Tuesday that Google’s use of Oracle’s Java programming technology was unfair, a reversal of fortune in a case that dates back to 2010, when Oracle alleged Google’s Android smartphone operating system infringed copyrights related to Oracle’s Java platform. Oracle has sought as much as $9 billion in damages previously.
The appeals court ruling, if it stands, could have a broad impact on the software industry by making it more expensive for developers to use Java and other copyrighted software to create new products.
The Oracle case has been subject to two trials. In the last one, jurors ruled Google’s use of the Java code was permitted as “fair use” under federal copyright law. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Tuesday overturned that holding, concluding in a 56-page opinion that Google’s use of Oracle’s Java packages was “not fair as a matter of law.”