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Google vs. Oracle finally in the hands of SCOTUS-ADTmag

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Google vs. Oracle finally in the hands of SCOTUS

The decade-long legal battle between Google and Oracle over the over 37 Java APIs that Google used on the Android mobile operating system without Oracle’s permission is finally nearing its end. (Really this time, probably.) The oral argument at the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ended on Friday.

The proceedings have been pending in the High Court for almost two years. Originally set up for oral argument in March, it was rescheduled this fall when the coronavirus pandemic scrambled the spring controversial session. (My previous report contains a summary of the long history of this case, which began when Oracle sued Google in 2010.)

Google is asking the court to overturn the federal circuit court’s finding that the structure, sequence, and organization (SSO) of Oracle’s Java API package is copyrighted. Also, Google’s use of that SSO was not “fair use” under copyright law.

In this case, there are many problems. $ 8.8 million isn’t the only damages Oracle is seeking from Alphabet’s subsidiary Google. This could be one of the most important copyright proceedings in 10 years.

In January, several small businesses and technology organizations joined the Mozilla software community as friends with the court’s outline and urged the High Court to overturn the Federal Circuit’s decision.

In a blog post, Abigail Phillips, head of legal at the Mozilla Foundation, states that this overview is being discussed from the perspective of small, medium-sized, and open source technology organizations. “Mozilla believes in software reimplementation [the process of writing new software to perform certain functions of a legacy product] And the interoperability it promotes is the cornerstone of competition and innovation at the heart of a thriving software development ecosystem. ”

The list of organizations for Mozilla amici curiae includes Medium, Cloudera, Creative Commons, Shopify, Etsy, Reddit, Open Source Initiative, Mapbox, Patreon, Wikimedia Foundation, and Software Freedom Conservancy.

“The proceedings could have a significant impact on software copyright protection, fair use, and the sacredness of jury verdicts,” lawyer J. Michael Keyes told ADTmag in an email. “Attorneys at both parties were full of questions focused primarily on software copyright protection, the merger of ideas and expressions, and whether Google’s use was” fair. ” “

Keys is an intellectual property attorney and partner of the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney. He listened to the discussion last week and provided a summary.

“Some of the judges’ questions seemed skeptical of Google’s position and seemed to bother Google with using Oracle’s software code,” Keys said. “Judge Roberts said [that] It does not give you the right to take money just because you “break the safe”. Judge Alito was concerned that if the court adopted Google’s position, software copyright protection would effectively end. Judge Sot Mayor seemed to be fairly open-minded about his skeptical view of Google’s position. “What gives you the right to use their original work?” Judge Gorsuch and Judge Cagan said that other big tech companies like Apple and Microsoft succeeded without copying Java on mobile. It seemed like I had a problem creating the platform.

According to Keys, Oracle’s attorneys also faced questions about whether the “declaration code” was copyrighted.

“Surprisingly, there wasn’t much emphasis or focus on the confusion of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals for the Jury Verdict on Fair Use,” Keys added. “Judge Arito seemed to question whether the lower courts applied the wrong standards, and so did Judge Gorsuch. There was one case of the Federal Court of Appeals overturning the jury verdict on fair use. Given that this issue received more “broadcast time”.

Bill Frankel, a shareholder of Brinks, Gilson & Lione and chair of the company’s copyright group, was also contacted by email.

“Justice addressed Google’s claim that software interfaces are purely functional lines of code, not creative expressions that exist to protect copyright,” Frankel said. “Where is the line between copyrighted and non-copyrighted code? But they are concerned with the principles of merger and the representation of Oracle’s declarative code and the functional purpose of that code. We scrutinized whether there was a merger. The court adopted Google’s merger argument, so retention was probably limited to the Java declaration code in question, and the writing of the API in future disputes, if not uncertain. It will leave the scope of protection open. “

Frankel pointed out the number of similarities that the judge came up with during the discussion to understand some technical concepts (as many happy reporters did).

“The judge came up with some similarities to suggest possible features of Oracle’s API, including mechanical devices such as QWERTY keyboards and telephone exchanges, but these similarities are inappropriate. Judge Roberts’ menu was close to Mark, but even the menu, divided into appetizers, entries, and desserts, can be written in a myriad of ways. After all, the Oracle code is It was original, creative, and properly copyrighted. The question to be solved is what the scope of the copyright should be, and the proper use factor in the context of software copyright. It’s a way to evaluate. “

Posted by John K. Waters on October 14, 2020 at 10:12 am

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