Update #4: To Copyright APIs, or Not to Copyright, That is the Question

Don Miller

The United States Supreme Court (aka, the “Supremes”) left today for summer vacation, and on the way out the door they posted a list of cases they will hear in the fall term.  We thought MFT Nation readers would want to know that the Oracle v. Google case was not on the list.  So what does this development mean?

For starters, the appellate court ruling stands, which held that Oracle’s Java APIs are copyrightable.  Thus, Oracle has a federal appeals court precedent on its side, which it can use as a sword against all other Java API users who Oracle believes may be violating its copyrights.  So, unless and until another court decides otherwise, the IT community should be aware that Oracle may be on the hunt for violators.

Also, the Supreme’s decision does not signal the end for the long-running Oracle v. Google case.  It now goes back to the lower court where Google can offer a defense, including that it made “fair use” of Oracle’s copyrighted APIs. The two companies may choose to either settle or fight it out over fair use.  But remember, a court decision saying that Google is not liable because it made “fair use” of the APIs is far different from one saying Oracle has no copyright in the APIs.

Will the Supreme’s decision not to act lead to a slower pace of innovation, as many “experts” have predicted?  Will we see Oracle file other similar lawsuits alleging copyright violations relating to Java APIs?  Will others file “copy cat” lawsuits?  Stay tuned to MFT Nation to get answers to these and other related questions, or you can subscribe to bTrade’s MFT Nation blog to get an automatic feed of the latest updates.