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Oracle reignites Google battle by appealing Java API ruling

13 Feb 2013
Gavel and money

Oracle has appealed last year's dismissal of its copyright claims on the Java platform.

In its appeal, Oracle argued against a US judge's ruling that Java application programming interfaces (APIs) can not be protected under copyright. Oracle contends that it is "decidedly unfair" to allow Google to use Java code in its Android OS.

"A commercial competitor may not copy verbatim crucial features of another's expression, depriving the original author of a potential market for the work," wrote Oracle's lawyers in the appeal.

"Google copied the source code upon which programmers most rely, incorporated that code into a competing mobile platform, and competed directly with Oracle which was already profiting from licensing the packages for mobile devices. That is decidedly unfair."

Last June, a US judge dismissed Oracle's copyright claims on 37 Java APIs. The judge shot down the claims, asserting that Oracle could not copyright its Java APIs as they are used to connect programming languages and not usable without other original works.

Oracle has now fired back arguing that using APIs in a separate piece of software is like an author stealing chapters from an advanced copy of a Harry Potter book and then rushing out their book to market before the one they copied.

"Ann Droid wants to publish a bestseller. So she sits down with an advance copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and proceeds to transcribe. She verbatim copies all the chapter titles from Chapter 1 to Chapter 38," continued Oracle lawyers in the Appeal

"She copies verbatim the topic sentences of each paragraph, starting from the first one and continuing, in order, to the [last one]. She then paraphrases the rest of each paragraph. She rushes the competing version to press, before the original, under the title: Ann Droid's Harry Potter 5.0 [and] the knockoff flies off the shelves."

The metaphor alludes to the fact that Oracle considered making its own smartphone OS before the release of Android.

Groklaw legal blogger Pamela Jones was unimpressed by Oracle's metaphor.

"Yes. Ann Droid. You know what's wrong with this introduction? Software is not a novel. The copyright rules are not identical," wrote Jones, in a blog post.

"And that's not an accurate or fair description of what Google did. I'd expect them to say that to a jury, not the Federal Circuit."

Oracle's appeal continues a lengthy legal battle with Google. Both firms have been fighting over the Java platform for the past three years. Google now has until 28 March to respond to Oracle's appeal.

V3 contacted both Google and Oracle. The two firms had no comment on the appeal.

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James Dohnert

James is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to ClickZ, his work has appeared in publications like V3, The Commonwealth Club,, and Shonen Jump magazine. He studied Journalism at Weber State University.

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