30 April 2019Copyright

SCOTUS asks for government views in Oracle v Google

The US Supreme Court has asked the Trump administration to provide its take on whether it should hear the long-running dispute between Oracle and Google.

Dating back to 2010, the clash began when Oracle filed a copyright infringement suit against Google, accusing Google of using its Java application program interface’s (API) in the Android operating system.

In May 2016, a jury at the US District Court for the Northern District of California sided with Google, after finding that the API’s in question weren’t copyrightable.

At the time, IP research company Ocean Tomo (which was hired by Oracle) estimated that Oracle was seeking nearly $10 billion in damages and profits in a pre-trial report.

But, on appeal, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the decision, finding that APIs could be protected by copyright.

Google then  asked the Supreme Court to review the ruling, but the US’s highest court denied the case.

Donald Verrilli, the US solicitor general at the Department of Justice at the time, had recommended that the Supreme Court should not hear the case.

It went back to the trial court, where Google won again, on the defence of fair use.

But, once more, the Federal Circuit  reversed the jury’s finding and concluded that as the “copying is verbatim, for an identical function and purpose” it did not qualify as a transformative use.

The Supreme Court justices are now considering whether to take up Google’s appeal against the Federal Circuit’s revival of the multi-billion-dollar copyright case.

In February 2019, WIPR  reported that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) had filed an amicus brief urging the US Supreme Court to review the long-running case.

EFF claimed that the Federal Circuit’s approach was “both simplistic and erroneous” and that the court had Federal Circuit had “created a copyright mess that only the Supreme Court can fix”.

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More on this story

26 February 2019   The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed an amicus brief urging the US Supreme Court to review the long-running case between Google and Oracle.
28 March 2018   The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has revived a billion-dollar copyright clash between Oracle and Google.
16 July 2019   A California-based company has accused Google of stealing its IP for the development of advertisement services.