10.13.14

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SCOTUS May Soon Put an End to the ‘Copyrights on APIs’ Question While Proprietary Giants Continue to Harass Android/Linux in Every Way Conceivable

Posted in Google, Oracle, Patents at 1:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Google takes its fight over API freedom to the Supreme Court in the Unites States and it also takes that longstanding patent harassment from the Microsoft- and Apple-backed troll (Rockstar) out of East Texas

“Google makes a series of compelling points in its petition,” writes Simon Phipps in relation to Google’s defence against Oracle (SCOracle, continuing the tradition of SCO’s copyrights misrepresentation). Google has found some material errors in interpretation of laws/cases, citing the corrupt CAFC with its utterly ridiculous ruling that we covered at the time. “These points alone seem strong to me,” says Phipps, “[b]ut Google also says CAFC has made a serious error that ignores the precedent of earlier SCOTUS decisions and violates the distinction between copyright and patent as monopolies.

“On the first point, Google refers back to the SCOTUS Lotus v Borland case in 1996. Google points out that “methods of operation embodied in computer programs are not entitled to copyright protection,” then asserts that the Java class APIs are a method of operating the Java class implementations. Since Android’s implementations of the Java APIs are Google’s original work, the company claims copyright does not apply.”

Oracle in the mean time is grabbing some talent from Google and it is not yet clear if there will be a SCOTUS case (the request for appeal may be denied). It is clear that CAFC does not understand software APIs or maybe it is just too corrupt (which becomes an accepted view these day), so this appeal has merit. As Pogson explained: “Copyright should not apply to other’s works. If you write software to work with some API, no other authour should be able to forbid that or to tax that. Yet, that’s what Oracle wants to do and they found a lower court that agreed with that despite that being an illegal extension of copyright to others’ work. Stranger still, Java is FLOSS…”

Here is some of the earliest coverage:

The legal fracas started when Google copied certain elements—names, declaration, and header lines—of the Java APIs in Android, and Oracle sued. A San Francisco federal judge largely sided with Google in 2012, saying that the code in question could not be copyrighted. But the federal appeals court reversed, and ruled that the “declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization of the API packages are entitled to copyright protection.

This goes beyond patents and into copyrights on ideas/words. Oracle should not be allowed to win this as the is not just about Android but about software development in general.

Do remember that Oracle is in a pact with Microsoft and Apple when it comes to patents. They share control over CPTN, which is made out of Novell’s patents. There is a similar arrangement around Rockstar, which also involves Apple and Microsoft (Apple, Microsoft, Ericsson, RIM and Sony is the complete list). Joe Mullin says that Rockstar too is still harassing Google (Android) and Google has just managed to take the lawsuit of of the capital of trolls, East Texas:

It’s been nearly one year since Rockstar Consortium, a patent holding company owned in part by Microsoft and Apple, launched a major patent assault against Google. Now, the issue of where the case will be heard has finally been resolved—in Google’s favor.

Google took the case to the nation’s top patent court to get it out of East Texas and back to its home state, California. The matter of venue isn’t a mere sideline skirmish. East Texas courts are generally considered tough on patent defendants, with few cases resolving on summary judgment, stringent discovery rules, and last-minute scheduling decisions. Google’s Texas case was scheduled to be heard in front of US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap, who hears far more patent cases than any other district court judge in the nation.

The war against Android is a big deal for those of us who care about Free software and GNU/Linux. Let’s not lose sight of the fight against this kind of abuse. Public apathy helps crooked judges and abusive companies like Oracle, Microsoft, and Apple.

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