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US Supreme Court: Petition by Google (6 October 2014) and Opposition by Oracle (8 December 2014)

Copyright Protection for Java Application Programming Interfaces (API)

On 8 December 2014, Oracle has filed its Brief in Opposition to the Supreme Court of the United States against Google in a copyright dispute concerning 37 packages of computer source code written by the predecessor of Oracle America, Inc.in Java programming language.

The Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit had decided on 9 May 2014 that these application programming interfaces (API) are entitled to copyright protection because they are creative, original, expressive and could have been written in any number of ways to achieve the same function (Oracle America, Inc. v. Google Inc., CRi 2015, pages 18 - 24).

On 6 October 2014, Google had petitioned to the Supreme Court of the United States because the Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit had based its decision on 17 U.S.C. Section 102(b) not excluding systems or methods of operation from copyright protection. Further the Federal Circuit found that all elements of an original work are copyrightable as long as the author had multiple ways to express the underlying idea. Google disagrees and puts in its petition the question to the Supreme Court:

„Whether copyright protection extends to all elements of an original work of computer software, including a system or method of operation, that an author could have written in more than one way.“
(Google Petition of 6 October 2014)

On 8 December 2014, Oracle has filed its Brief of Opposition in which it emphasizes that Google copied at least 7000 lines of original computer source code that Oracle wrote, and included the copied code in its own software platform, even though Google could have written its own code (rather than copying Oracle’s) to perform the same functions. From Oracle's perspective therefore, the question presented to the Supreme Court is rather the following:

"Does the Copyright Act protect Oracle’s computer source code that Google copied, where Google concedes that the code was original and creative, and Oracle could have written its code in any number of ways to perform the same function?"
(Oracle Brief in Opposition of 8 December 2014)

It remains to be seen how the Supreme Court of the United States of America will decided on this issue.

(ga) 

Full Oracle Brief in Opposition of 8 December 2014

Full Google Petition of 6 October 2014

All documents and progress of this Supreme Court case available at:

Verlag Dr. Otto Schmidt vom 12.02.2015 13:13

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