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. Links 25/5/2019: Wine 4.9 Released, FreeBSD 11.3 Beta, Telegram Launches Fift

    Links for the day



  2. Links 24/5/2019: PostgreSQL 12 Beta 1 and Rust 1.35 Released

    Links for the day



  3. EPO Strikes Further Diminish Chances of UPC Ever Materialising (in Any Shape or Form)

    The EPO crumbles under the weight of its own corruption while an increasingly-insane Team UPC pretends all remains normal and a patent trolls-friendly system is ready to take off



  4. EPO Allegedly Becoming Insolvent (Pretext for Cuts), So Staff Gets Punished While Management Takes the Jackpot

    The corporate 'logic' at the EPO follows the "shareholders' value" propaganda line as if the EPO is a private company looking to maximise revenue rather than serve the public



  5. EPO President Still Not Obeying Courts' Rulings

    Federation of International Civil Service Associations (FICSA) sent a message to António Campinos yesterday (the same day SUEPO publicly made a call for strike)



  6. António Campinos Has Run Out of Time and EPO Staff is Going on Strike (Skipping Mere Protests)

    European Patent Office strikes are to resume; as SUEPO recently put it, people have come to accept that EPO leadership has not really changed and none of the underlying issues is being tackled



  7. Links 23/5/2019: Elisa 0.4.0, OpenSUSE Leap 15.1 Released

    Links for the day



  8. Links 22/5/2019: Mesa 19.0.5, Huawei and GNU/Linux, Curl 7.65.0, End of Antergos, Tails 3.14, ownCloud Server 10.2, Firefox 67.0

    Links for the day



  9. Quality of Patents is Going Down the Drain and Courts Have Certainly Noticed

    Uncertainty or lack of confidence in the patent system has reached appalling levels because heads of patent offices are just striving to grant as many patents as possible, irrespective of the underlying law



  10. EUIPO and EPO Abuses Growingly Inseparable

    'Musical chairs' at CEIPI and the EPO/EUIPO (Battistelli, Archambeau, Campinos) as well as joint reports never fail to reveal the extent to which EPO abuses are spreading



  11. Links 21/5/2019: China's GAFAM Exit, DragonFlyBSD 5.4.3

    Links for the day



  12. Links 20/5/2019: Linux 5.2 RC1, LibreOffice 6.3 Alpha, DXVK 1.2.1, Bison 3.4 Released

    Links for the day



  13. South Korea's Government Will Show If Microsoft Loves Linux or Just Attacks It Very Viciously Like It Did in Munich

    Microsoft's hatred of all things GNU/Linux is always put to the test when someone 'dares' use it outside Microsoft's control and cash cows (e.g. Azure and Vista 10/WSL); will Microsoft combat its longstanding urge to corrupt or oust officials with the courage to say "no" to Microsoft?



  14. Links 19/5/2019: KDE Applications 19.04.1 in FlatHub and GNU/Linux Adoption

    Links for the day



  15. The War on Patent Quality

    A look at the EPO's reluctance to admit errors and resistance to the EPC, which is its very founding document



  16. Watchtroll, Composed by Patent Trolls, Calls the American Patent System “Corrupt”

    Another very fine piece from Watchtroll comes from very fine patent trolls who cheer for Donald Trump as if he's the one who tackles corruption rather than spreading it



  17. Unified Patent Court Won't Happen Just Because the Litigation Microcosm Wants It

    Unified Patent Court (UPC) hopefuls are quote-mining and cherry-picking to manufacture the false impression that the UPC is just around the corner when in reality the UPC is pretty much dead (but not buried yet)



  18. Links 17/5/2019: South Korea's GNU/Linux Pivot, Linux 5.1.3

    Links for the day



  19. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 4: Happy Birthday to the Kötter Group?

    This year the Kötter Group commemorates the 85th anniversary of its existence. But is it really a cause for celebration or would a less self-congratulatory approach be more fitting? And does it create the risk that a routine tendering exercise at the EPO will turn into Operation Charlie Foxtrot?



  20. Links 16/5/2019: Cockpit 194, VMware Acquires Bitnami, Another Wine Announcement and Krita 4.2.0 Beta

    Links for the day



  21. The EPO's Key Function -- Like the UPC's Vision -- Has Virtually Collapsed

    The EPO no longer issues good patents and staff is extremely unhappy; but the Office tries to create an alternate (false) reality and issues intentionally misleading statements



  22. Stanford's NPE Litigation Database Makes a Nice Addition in the Fight Against Software Patent Trolls

    As the United States of America becomes less trolls- and software patents-friendly (often conflated with plaintiff (un)friendliness) it's important to have accurate data which documents the numbers and motivates better policy; The NPE (troll) Litigation Database is a move towards that and it's free to access/use



  23. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 3: “Ein kritikwürdiges Unternehmen”

    A brief account of some further controversies in which the Kötter Group has been involved and its strained relations with German trade unions such as Verdi



  24. EPO Had a Leakage Problem and Privacy of Stakeholders Was Compromised, Affecting at Least 100 Cases

    The confidentiality principle was compromised at the EPO and stakeholders weren't told about it (there was a coverup)



  25. Links 15/5/2019: More Linux Patches and More Known Intel Bugs

    Links for the day



  26. False Hope for Patent Maximalists and Litigation Zealots

    Patent litigation predators in the United States, along with Team UPC in Europe, are trying to manufacture optimistic predictions; a quick and rather shallow critical analysis reveals their lies and distortions



  27. The Race to the Bottom of Patent Quality at the EPO

    The EPO has become more like a rubber-stamper than a patent office — a fact that worries senior staff who witnessed this gradual and troublesome transition (from quality to raw quantity)



  28. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 2: Meet the Kötters

    An introduction to the Kötter Group, the private security conglomerate which is lined up for the award of a juicy EUR 30 million contract for the provision of security services at the EPO



  29. Links 14/5/2019: Red Hat Satellite 6.5, NVIDIA 430.14 Linux Driver and New Security Bug (MDS)

    Links for the day



  30. Links 14/5/2019: GNU/Linux in Kerala, DXVK 1.2, KDE Frameworks 5.58.0 Released

    Links for the day


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

Recent Posts