Featured: Judge crushes Oracle's API copyright claims against Google


During the second phase of the trial between Oracle and Google over infringement of the SSO (structure, sequence and organization) of 37 Java APIs, the jury was asked to assume that the SSO was in fact copyrightable. They jurors found that Google had infringed, but remained deadlocked on the question of whether Google was protected under fair use of said APIs. Today, Judge Alsup's ruling effectively ended the trial by ruling that the Java API's in question were not copyrightable after all.

Judge Alsup found that 97% of the code was written by Google and that the remaining 3% were freely replicable under the merger and names doctrines. The judge felt that oracle's claim would allow them to pursue companies that used their code in different implementations. The end result would allow Oracle a vast amount of control of other software that replicated similar functionality, which could greatly hinder the entire software community in the future.


Judge Alsup's closing remarks:

In closing, it is important to step back and take in the breadth of Oracle's claim. Of the 166 Java packages, 129 were not violated in any way. Of the 37 accused, 97 percent of the Android lines were new from Google and the remaining three percent were freely replicable under the merger and names doctrines. Oracle must resort, therefore, to claiming that it owns, by copyright, the exclusive right to any and all possible implementations of the taxonomy-like command structure for the 166 packages and/or any subpart thereof – even though it copyrighted only one implementation. To accept Oracle's claim would be to allow anyone to copyright one version of code to carry out a system of commands and thereby bar all others from writing their own different versions to carry out all or part of the same commands. No holding has ever endorsed such a sweeping proposition.

So what did Oracle get out of their supposed billion dollar lawsuit? Oracle can run home with two small wins under their belt. The jury decided that Google did use 9 lines of code for the rangeCheck function as well as eight decompiled Java test files. These are worth a fraction of what Oracle original sought damages for, only being able to  claim a maximum of $300,000.


Oracle isn't done yet, they plan to appeal Judge Alsup's ruling, feeling that Google deliberately fragmented Java and the "write one, run anywhere" promise. They feel this ruling would essentially hurt companies trying to defend their intellectual property in the United States.

Oracle's statement on the ruling:

Oracle is committed to the protection of Java as both a valuable development platform and a valuable intellectual property asset. It will vigorously pursue an appeal of this decision in order to maintain that protection and to continue to support the broader Java community of over 9 million developers and countless law abiding enterprises. Google's implementation of the accused APIs is not a free pass, since a license has always been required for an implementation of the Java Specification. And the court's reliance on "interoperability" ignores the undisputed fact that Google deliberately eliminated interoperability between Android and all other Java platforms. Google's implementation intentionally fragmented Java and broke the "write once, run anywhere" promise. This ruling, if permitted to stand, would undermine the protection for innovation and invention in the United States and make it far more difficult to defend intellectual property rights against companies anywhere in the world that simply takes them as their own.


Source: The Verge

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