EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

05.11.14

Analysis of Text From the CAFC Reveals Lack of Technical Comprehension

Posted in Courtroom, Google, Intellectual Monopoly, Oracle at 3:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lawyers deciding on technical issues

CAFC

Summary: The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) shows us yet again that it does not understand technology and its latest ruling is harmful to the technical community

YESTERDAY we wrote about the menacing CAFC ruling, which basically throws a lot of FOSS under the rug (by extension) for it alleges that APIs are copyrightable and that their reuse does not qualify as fair use. We have already criticised CAFC for being very pro-software patents and for being utterly clueless on technical matters on numerous occasions, so the latest decision from it oughtn’t be so shocking. As Ars Technica put it, “Google, which said it was exploring its legal options, decried Friday’s ruling. The Mountain View, CA-based media giant said the decision “sets a damaging precedent for computer science and software development.””

Google is correct and it will hopefully appeal this decision. What we have here is misuse of copyrights, SCO style, by Oracle.

TechDirt posted the best rebuttal to this decision, attracting hundreds of comments and revealing a lot of holes and mistakes in CAFC’s ruling (the text). Here’s a sample:

Appeals Court Doesn’t Understand The Difference Between Software And An API; Declares APIs Copyrightable

[...]

We sort of expected this to happen after the appeals court for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) held its oral arguments back in December, but CAFC has now spit at basic common sense and has declared that you can copyright an API. As we noted, back when Judge William Alsup (who learned to code Java to better understand the issues in the case) ruled that APIs were not subject to copyright protection, his ruling was somewhat unique in that it was clearly directed as much at an appeals court panel who would be hearing the appeal as it was at the parties. Alsup rightly suspected that the judges on the appeal wouldn’t actually understand the issues as well as he did, and tried to break it down clearly for them. Unfortunately, the three judge CAFC panel did not pay attention. The ruling is so bad that legal scholars are suggesting that it may be as bad as the horrific ruling in the Garcia case.

[...]

As for the ruling itself… well… it’s bad. The court seems to not understand what an API is, confusing it with software functionality. It also appears to misread Judge Alsup’s ruling, thinking that he’s mistakenly using a fair use analysis to determine whether or not something is copyrightable. But that was not the basis of Judge Alsup’s ruling. He very specifically noted that the “command structure is a system or method of operation under Section 102(b) of the Copyright Act and, therefore, cannot be copyrighted.” The CAFC panel doesn’t seem to understand this at all.

[...]

It seems fairly clear that the CAFC judges don’t understand the difference between an API and software. And thus they make a decision that makes no sense. There is no distinction recognized when it comes to the functionality of an API and how it’s entirely different than the purpose of the software itself. This is especially clear towards the end, in which the CAFC ruling misrepresents some discussions on whether certain functionality is best protected by patents or copyright. But the problem is that they misinterpret statements people are making about APIs, thinking that those statements were made about software as a whole. This is just a flat-out fundamental misunderstanding of what an API is, assuming that it’s just software.

[...]

Note that “[software]” thrown in before interfaces? Google is talking about whether APIs — “application programming interfaces” — are copyrightable. Not whether or not software is copyrightable. And yet the CAFC doesn’t even seem to realize this. Ridiculously, CAFC then uses its own misunderstanding and misquote, and points to some of the (many) arguments where people argue that patents are inappropriate for software to dismiss Google’s argument about APIs. It honestly doesn’t realize that it’s comparing two totally different things. What lots of people agree on: software shouldn’t be patentable and APIs shouldn’t be copyrightable, but software can be copyrightable and API functionality may be patentable. But by confusing APIs and software, CAFC totally misreads both arguments.

This will probably go to SCOTUS next (unless they decline to weigh in), but in the mean time it spreads uncertainty and doubt, harming not only Free software developers but developers in general. As TechDirt put it, “CAFC has mucked up another form of intellectual property law through a basic (and near total) misunderstanding of technology.”

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Now is the Time to Sign the Petition Against the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    With only days left before the UPC is debated in English/British (and maybe Scottish) Parliament it's important to make public officials aware that there is resistance among those sufficiently informed



  2. Justice is Dead Not Only at the European Patent Office But Also the Whole European Patent Organisation

    The whole mechanism of justice at the EPO (notably separation of powers) is more or less defunct after Battistelli asserted God-like powers not just over the Office but the entire Organisation, including the above-mentioned Boards of Appeal



  3. IAM Just Can't Stop Pushing for Software Patents in India

    The shaming tactics against India, which come from many directions (notably front groups in the West), still try hard to convince Indians to shoot themselves in the foot and allow foreign companies to privatise algorithms



  4. More Hardware Companies Adopt Software Patents and Become Like Patent Trolls

    A glance at the 'trollisation' of large companies that are tempted by the prospects of patent bullying, even if it's known to be damaging to one's brand and a distraction from productive activities



  5. Yes, Michelle Lee is Still in Charge of the US Patent Office, in Spite of the Patent Microcosm's Endless Attacks on Her

    In spite of many attacks on Michelle Lee -- all of which courtesy of rude patent maximalists -- she remains in charge of the Office and we wish her continued success in that role



  6. Links 28/2/2017: Wine 1.8.7, AWS Goes Belly-up

    Links for the day



  7. The Boards of Appeal Openly Complain (in the EPO's Web Site) About Battistelli, But Don't Tell Battistelli About It...

    The Boards of Appeal have found the courage -- in the face of a pattern of illegal retaliation -- to state that Battistelli's abuse of power compromises the perceived if not actual legitimacy of their decisions



  8. Web Site of French Senator Richard Yung Cracked Just Days After Criticising the EPO

    A French politician finds himself red-faced after criticising the EPO, as his site gets flagged as malicious, gets blocked, and his blog post (speech) about the EPO vanishes



  9. New Survey Shows That Even Patent Professionals Know That Team UPC is Lying About Unitary Patent Roadmaps

    The "Unified Patent Court (UPC) is unlikely to become operational by December 2017 [according to] nearly three-quarters of WIPR readers," but Team UPC continues to spread lies



  10. Does the EPO Want Patent Quality to Decline Against the USPTO and Become Akin to SIPO?

    The EPO, which is trying to convert a patent system into a cash cow rather than a public service, risks losing public support and an applicants base (where it hasn't lost it already)



  11. Xinova is a Patent Troll With Connections to Microsoft and Intellectual Ventures, the World's Largest Troll

    A Microsoft patent troll gives birth to another trollish tentacle (one among literally thousands), this one called "Xinova" but formerly known as Invention Development Fund (IDF)



  12. IAM 'Magazine' Rented Out to Microsoft Again, in Order to Attack Amazon (as Host of Free/Libre Software) Using Software Patents FUD

    The new front against GNU/Linux, or the attempt by Microsoft to tax the platform using software patents, is glossed over in puff pieces from Microsoft, conveniently published under IAM's own umbrella again



  13. Links 27/2/2017: GNU Linux-libre 4.10, Weston 2.0.0, Git 2.12.0, Linux From Scratch 8.0

    Links for the day



  14. Top Officials in French Government Are Growing Tired of Battistelli's Abuses at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    An automated translation of a recent debate about the EPO in the French government, culminating in intervention by Richard Yung



  15. A US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Which is Hostile Towards Patent Maximalists May Closely Examine More Patents That Apple Uses Against Android

    A company which often takes pride in designers rather than developers (art, not technical merit) may lose that leverage over the competition if its questionable patents are taken away by the Supremes



  16. As Long as Software Patents Are Granted and Microsoft Equips Trolls With Them, “Azure IP Advantage” is an Attack on Free/Libre Software

    Microsoft is feeding enemies of GNU/Linux and Free/libre Open Source software (FLOSS) in order to sell its 'protection', which it names "IP Advantage" in a rather Orwellian fashion (same naming as back in the Novell days)



  17. Patent Trolls on Their Way Out in the United States and Their Way Into China, No Thanks to the Open Invention Network (OIN)

    An update on patent trolls and the role played by supposed allies of Free/libre software, who in practice do everything to exacerbate the problem rather than resolve it



  18. Insensitivity at the EPO’s Management – Part VIII: When Governed by Criminals, Truth-Tellers Are Cast as Criminals and Criminals as Justice Deliverers

    The bizarre state of affairs at the European Patent Office, where being an honest and transparent person makes one incredibly vulnerable and subjected to constant harassment from the management



  19. The Sickness of the EPO – Part V: Shedding Light on Institutional Abuse Against Ill and/or Disabled Individuals

    The seriousness of the situation at the EPO and a call for action, which requires greater transparency, even if imposed transparency



  20. The EPO's Race to the Bottom in Recruitment and Early Retirements Explained by an Insider

    The European Patent Office under Battistelli is failing to attract -- and certainly failing to retain -- talented examiners



  21. Wouter Pors and Other UPC Boosters Believe That Repeating the Lies Will Potentially Make Them Truths

    The lobbying campaign for UPC, or hopeful lies (sometimes mere rumours) disguised as "news", continues to rely on false perceptions that the UPC is just a matter of time and may actually materialise this year



  22. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is Utilised in Fixing the US Patent System and the Patent Microcosm Loses Its Mind

    A roundup of PTAB news, ranging from attacks on the legitimacy of PTAB to progress which is made by PTAB, undoing decades of overpatenting



  23. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Take on Patents Pertaining to Business Methods

    Patents on tasks that can be performed using pen and paper (so-called 'business methods', just like algorithms) and oughtn't be patent-eligible may be the next casualty of the America Invents Act (AIA)



  24. Google's Stewardship of GNU/Linux (Android, Chromebooks and More) in Doubt After Company Resorts to Patent 'First Strikes'

    Google has just turned a little more evil, by essentially using patents as a weapon against the competition (by no means a defensive move)



  25. Links 24/2/2017: Ubuntu 17.04 Beta, OpenBSD Foundation Nets $573,000 in Donations

    Links for the day



  26. IAM, Greased up by the EPO, Continues Lobbying by Shaming Tactics for the UPC, Under the Guise of 'News'

    The shrill and well-paid writers of IAM are still at it, promoting the Unitary Patent (UPC) at every opportunity and every turn



  27. Patent Scope Gone Awry: European Vegetable Patents Office?

    In its misguided race to raise so-called 'production', the EPO lost sight of its original goals and now facilitates patent royalty payments/taxation for naturally-recurring items of nature



  28. Yes, There is Definitely Brain Drain (Experience Deficit) at the European Patent Office and Stakeholders Feel It

    The direction that the European Patent Office has taken under Battistelli undoes many decades (almost half a century) of reputation-building and progress and naturally this repels existing staff, not to mention hampers recruitment efforts



  29. The Sickness of the EPO – Part IV: Cruel Management That Deliberately Attacks the Sick and the Weak

    The dysphoric reality at the European Patent Office, which is becoming like a large cell (with bolted-down windows) where people are controlled by fear and scapegoats are selected to perpetuate this atmosphere of terror and maintain demand (or workload) for the Investigative Stasi



  30. Links 23/2/2017: Qt 5.9 Alpha, First SHA1 Collision

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts