You may recall that in the middle of 2010, Google and Oracle began a bitter and somewhat protracted battle in court to decide whether Google infringed on Oracle’s patents during the creation of Android. Essentially, this all boiled down to the question of whether APIs can be copyrighted. But in the middle of 2012, Judge William Alsup ruled that these APIs were not copyrightable. And by doing so, the first chapter or Oracle vs Google came to a close.
Of course back then, we all expected that Oracle would appeal this ruling—and so they did. Now, a three-judge panel in the US Court of Appeals ruled to reinstate a jury’s finding of infringement on 37 Java API packages. But now, one crucial detail remains to be determined: whether Google’s use of the 37 Java APIs falls under “fair use.” As such, the Federal Circuit panel has ordered further proceedings under the Judge Alsup to determine whether this is the case.
Until we find out whether Google’s actions were protected under fair use, it remains to be seen what (if any) impact this will have on Android itself in the near term. However, this certainly has deep implications for future cases involving APIs and software interoperability. Where do you stand on all of this? Sound off in the comments below!
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