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Oracle wins copyright ruling in battle over Google’s Android software

Posted May 12, 2014 8:53 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has given Oracle a big win in its suit claiming Google used its patented and copyrighted Java technology in Android software.

The appeals court ruled that application programming interfaces, or APIs, are covered by U.S. copyright law, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The ruling overturns a decision by U.S. District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation explains APIs this way at its Deeplinks Blog: “Application Programming Interfaces are, generally speaking, specifications that allow programs to communicate with each other. So when you type a letter in a word processor, and hit the print command, you are using an API that lets the word processor talk to the printer driver, even though they were written by different people.”

The ruling sent the case back to Alsup to consider whether Google was protected by a fair-use defense.

EFF disagrees with the Federal Circuit ruling. “The implications of this decision are significant, and dangerous. As we and others tried to explain to the court, the freedom to reimplement and extend existing APIs has been the key to competition and progress in both hardware and software development,” the group says.

How Appealing has links to additional coverage. The decision is here (PDF).

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