Court Rules Select Java APIs Not Copyrightable

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A federal judge ruled on Thursday that the structure, sequence, and organization of 37 Java APIs owned by Oracle are not copyrightable. The ruling rendered moot a jury verdict that Google had copied that structure, and it represents another major win for the Android maker in its battle with Oracle.

Oracle vs. Google

According to CNet, Judge William Alsup issued a narrow ruling that he made sure could applied only to this specific case. Earlier in May, the same jury had ruled that Google had not infringed on patents owned by Oracle.

From the judge’s ruling:

So long as the specific code used to implement a method is different, anyone is free under the Copyright Act to write his or her own code to carry out exactly the same function or specification of any methods used in the Java API. It does not matter that the declaration or method header lines are identical.

Under the rules of Java, they must be identical to declare a method specifying the same functionality — even when the implementation is different. When there is only one way to express an idea or function, then everyone is free to do so and no one can monopolize that expression. And, while the Android method and class names could have been different from the names of their counterparts in Java and still have worked, copyright protection never extends to names or short phrases as a matter of law.

To make sure that the ruling didn’t become a precedent that would make all code un-copyrightable, Judge Alsup also wrote in his ruling that, “This order does not hold that Java API packages are free for all to use without license. It does not hold that the structure, sequence, and organization of all computer programs may be stolen. Rather, it holds on the specific facts of this case, the particular elements replicated by Google were free for all to use under the Copyright Act.”

Barring appeals, this is likely to be the last nail in the coffin for Oracle’s effort to reap a windfall from Google for ripping off Java in the creation of Android. According to both a jury and Judge Alsup, Google didn’t violate any laws in that process.

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Comments

daemon

Kaaaaaaaaahn! /shatner impression

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Not a word from Florian the patent/German/openSource/whatever expert yet. He must be out sharpening himself. #Tool

I think we are very close to the day when everyone who quotes Florian with any hope of credibility will refer to him as an expert in being a tool. Very close. Damn, it’s a great day!!!

Bryan Chaffin

Your rhetoric on Florian is beyond hyperbole, Brad. He got this one wrong, but he’s been right on far more occasions.

I’ve little doubt he will comment at some point, making jabs about the lack of comment so far pointless.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

He was all over spinning the jury’s verdict on copyright within an hour. This is a defining moment in his career. He tweeted 56m ago that he’s just reading the decision.

Bryan, if he totally predictably states that Oracle (a paid client of his) has good prospects on appeal, would you open your eyes for a moment?

But I still don’t get how Mac people forgive him for how he courted Lodsys. That hurt several small developers who were a target. It was completely brain dead advice. Actually, I do get how his appeal to the Apple crowd remains strong. It saddens me.

daemon

He got this one wrong, but he?s been right on far more occasions.

I really only know him for his Patent diatribes against Android….

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

OMFD, I am good at this game. So here is Florian saying that Android will be destroyed on appeal in two years.

And not in the same post disclosing for readers not totally familiar with his racket that he is a paid consultant for Oracle.

I finally figured out why people listen to him. He copies seven paragraphs of ipsum lorem to insert in the middle of his post. A fit punishment for that clown would be to have tl;dr tattooed in Helvetica Narrow on his scrawny little…

daemon

I like how Florian points at all of the parts of Judge Alsup’s decsion that other writers on the verge and eweek say makes his ruling bullet proof as being evidence that even the judge thinks his decsion will be overturned on appeal, and then uses that conclusion as conclusive proof that the decsion will be overturned.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

In evaluating Florian’s credibility, it might be worth your time reading PJ@Groklaw’s take. Groklaw has been right about this Google/Oracle thing from day 1. The indictment of Florian, mostly at the end of the post, is pretty thorough. I wish you guys would recognize his game for what it is. I mean, it’s not even worth tarnishing your cause because he’s not right.

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