13 January 2015Copyright

US Supreme Court asks for government’s view in Oracle v Google case

The US Supreme Court has sought help from a government official concerning whether it should hear a long-running copyright case between Oracle and Google.

The court asked for the opinion of the solicitor general, an official who expresses the views of the US federal government at the Supreme Court. The current solicitor general is Donald Verrilli, who was nominated by President Barack Obama and approved by the US Senate in 2011.

In October, Google asked the US Supreme Court to review a decision made by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that Google infringed certain copyright protecting computer software owned by Oracle.

The US Supreme Court has so far not confirmed whether it will hear the case.

The case centres on 37 application programming interfaces (APIs) used in the Java computer program. Oracle took ownership of Java after it acquired technology company Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion in 2010.

In its petition to the Supreme Court, Google argued that the ruling against it would have major implications for technology businesses because “early computer companies could have blocked vast amounts of technological development by claiming 95-year copyright monopolies over the basic building blocks of computer design”.

Oracle originally filed a claim in 2010 stating that Google’s Android operating system used for mobile phones had infringed its patents and copyright. It requested $1 billion in damages.

The US District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed the patent infringement side of the case but was undecided on whether the APIs are eligible for copyright protection.

The question surrounding copyright protection for APIs was then sent to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which ruled last May that they are copyrightable and that Google did infringe Oracle’s copyright.

Neither Oracle nor Google responded immediately to a request for comment.

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9 October 2014   Google has asked the US Supreme Court to resolve a long-running dispute against database maker Oracle about whether computer code can be protected by copyright.
27 May 2015   Google has been a dealt a blow in its copyright battle with Oracle after the US government said that the country’s Supreme Court should deny the search company’s petition to hear the dispute.