Entrepreneurs and investors in California may benefit from learning more about the potential implications of Google's loss at the Supreme Court of an appeal of a copyright lawsuit originally filed by Oracle in 2012. The lawsuit claimed that Google's popular Android operating system for mobile devices actually infringes on the Java software language developed by Oracle.
The 2014 decision by a federal appeals court was a reversal of a 2012 federal district court's decision to exclude application programming interfaces from copyright protection. Google contends that Oracle should be restricted to copyrighting software, and should not be allowed to claim ownership of a simple software command. The point of contention in this case is whether or not Google was operating within the parameters of fair use while utilizing Oracle's copyrighted software. The lawsuit was originally filed by Oracle in 2010. The core issues in the case may be attributable to the lack of clarity concerning the limits of copyright law, as it pertains to coding and software.
The financial loss Google could potentially realize has not been publicly discussed yet. However, the precedent set in this case could have significant implications on any firm currently relying on APIs to help their software work with the cloud, apps and different smartphones. Prominent industry professionals believe that the owner of the API should not be in position to potentially own another developer's program as well. Alongside Google, many proponents believe that APIs should be treated as functional tools and be exempt from copyright protection.
Companies that are concerned about potential copyright infringement may benefit from consulting with legal counsel. Lawyers may be prepared to evaluate the circumstances and help determine the proper ways to protect the intellectual property owned by a client.
Source: Tech Times, "Supreme Court Denies Appeal Of Google On Oracle Software Copyright Lawsuit Against Android", Aaron Mamiit, June 30, 2015