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Oracle takes on Google, SAP, Comcast in copyright protection lawsuits

Oracle begins this spring in search of copyright protection with lawsuits against Google, SAP and Comcast.

It's the beginning of May, and with spring comes Oracle's litigation open season. Oracle now has three different copyright protection lawsuits ongoing. On May 9, Oracle won a court case against Google over Java and copyright protection. Now, Oracle is facing scrutiny for reopening a lawsuit against SAP for allegedly copying software. Meanwhile, five months after Oracle issued a subpoena, Comcast has filed a motion to resist. All of these court rulings have the potential to cause change that will spread out beyond Oracle.

Oracle vs. Google

Oracle alleged Google's mobile operating system, Android, infringed on its copyrights to Java. In June 2012, the court ruled Oracle was not entitled to copyright protection for application programming interfaces (APIs). Google's lawyers made the case that some types of functional technologies do not get the same protection under U.S. copyright law.

On May 9, The U.S. Court of Appeals overturned this ruling and found that Oracle's copyrights on thirty-seven different Java packets were reinstated. It's possible the case will go all the way to the Supreme Court, since court rulings have historically been unclear regarding whether or not software can be copyrighted. As it stands now, the ruling says Oracle can own APIs.

Oracle vs. SAP

Oracle recently reopened its seven-year-old feud with SAP over the downloading and copying of Oracle software by a SAP subsidiary, now defunct. In 2010, Oracle alleged SAP made hundreds of thousands of illegal downloads and several thousands of copies of its software with the intention of stealing Oracle's customers. A jury awarded Oracle $1.3 billion in damages against SAP AG. In 2011, an appellate panel questioned whether Oracle had justified the damages sought, eventually deciding on $272 million. Oracle rejected the billion-dollar reduction and sought a second trial.

On May 13, Oracle asked a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco to reinstate the original verdict -- and the $1.3 billion -- or to order a new trial. The panel has not said when it will rule.

Oracle vs. Comcast

In July 2013, Oracle sued IT service providers Terix and Maintech, alleging the two companies told their customers they were authorized to distribute Oracle Solaris updates. Oracle also claimed Terix and Maintech told customers they were entitled to service in perpetuity when Oracle only offered yearly service contracts.

In December 2013, Oracle subpoenaed Comcast as part of the ongoing intellectual property suit. Oracle alleged Terix and Maintech gave Comcast unauthorized Solaris updates after their Oracle support had expired. Oracle is looking for documents and communications related to Comcast's deal with Terix and Maintech, Comcast's Solaris licenses, and any documents related to improper access and downloading from Oracle's support site.

Last week, Comcast filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to resist Oracle's subpoena.

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