White House forced to wade into Oracle vs Google Java bickerfest

Can't you kids play nice and just share the APIs like mature adults?

The US White House. Pic: Roman Boed
Obama: Supreme Court asked the administration to weigh in

Update The Obama administration is backing Oracle in its long-running legal battle against Google over the Chocolate Factory's alleged infringement of Java copyrights.

Oracle brought the case against Google in 2012, claiming it had breached copyright in its Java software when creating its Android mobile operating system.

Google responded that APIs should not be copyrightable, claiming such an interpretation of copyright laws "could have blocked vast amounts of technological development".

Originally, Judge William Alsup of the US District Court of Northern California ruled that APIs are not copyrightable.

However, in May 2014 the US Appeals Court of the Federal Circuit in Washington DC overturned Judge Alsup's ruling, saying it had no choice but to uphold software copyrights "until either the Supreme Court or Congress tells us otherwise".

Google brought the matter before the Supreme Court in October 2014.

In January the US Supreme Court asked the Obama administration to weigh in before it made its mind up whether to hear the case.

US solicitor general Donald Verrilli responded yesterday by rejecting Google's claims. However, he suggested the company might have recourse to alternative legal action.

In a brief, Verrilli said: “The general concerns that petitioner raises are substantial and important, but Section 102(b) is not the appropriate statutory provision to address them. Rather, legitimate concerns with interoperability and lock-in effects are far better addressed through the fair-use doctrine codified at Section 107."

Verrilli's opinion will be a blow to Google. In a statement to Reuters it said: "We appreciate the solicitor general's careful review of this issue. However, we're disappointed with these conclusions."

The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on whether to hear the case next month. ®

Update

Oracle have contacted us to express their joy at Verrilli's interjection: "Oracle is pleased that the US Solicitor General has recommended that the Supreme Court deny Google's cert petition. In 2014, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit unanimously rejected Google's arguments that software is entitled to less copyright protection than other original, creative works. The Solicitor General's brief agrees with the Federal Circuit's decision and affirms the importance of copyright protection as an incentive for software innovation."

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