back to article 'Copyrighted' Java APIs deserve same protection as HARRY POTTER, Oracle tells court

Oracle has asked an appeals court to decide that it does have copyright protection for its Java APIs, which Google used in the creation of its Android operating system, and thereby revive its billion-dollar suit against the firm. Oracle’s lawyer Josh Rosenkranz told the three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals that Google …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Get Suffed Oracle

    Now you really are taking the piss.

    1. Amorous Cowherder

      Re: Get Suffed Oracle


      So when I start extending classes will there be a knock on the door from men in suits issuing me with a set of papers to cease and desist trying to use OOP principles?

      1. HollyHopDrive

        Re: Get Suffed Oracle

        So, to get this right, the class object Integer has a method .toString() returns the string of integer. Any they claim to own copyright over that template. Clearly clutching at straws.

        And as for the harry potter analogy -they've got that wrong. Harry potter is just a "Book" which is generic. All books have chapters, contents and indexes. The individual implementation [i.e. the text] of that can be copyrighted, but to claim anybody who writes a book violates JK's copyright is clearly a first class idiot. Even if its a story about wizards that has the same number of chapters as the Philosophers Stone. I'm also guessing that chapter titles probably aren't copyrightable too (may be wrong there though) Oh, and I'm guessing 'preface' or 'introduction' is too generic too :)

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge


          Actually, the best analogy is they copied the index of the book, rewrote all the text, and then adjusted the page numbers, while adding some extra references along the way.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: @HollyHopDrive

            So Google admit to using the same 26 letters as Oracle?

            Obviously guilty then.

  2. Dazed and Confused

    If Oracle want APIs copyrighted

    Lets start with an experiment and copyright SQL. If they're still happy with the idea after, say, 5 years then they can start to look at others.

    1. Daniel von Asmuth

      Re: If Oracle want APIs copyrighted

      Yuck! API's are not copyrighted! We remember SCO suing IBM over Unix copyrights, when all that was copied seems to have been a couple of header files.

      1. Joseph Lord

        Re: If Oracle want APIs copyrighted

        > Yuck! API's are not copyrighted! We remember SCO suing IBM over Unix copyrights, when all that was copied seems to have been a couple of header files.

        I don't remember whether API's could be copyrightable ever came up in the SCO case, it certainly wasn't a key factor. Some of the reasons SCO lost:

        SCO didn't own the copyrights, Novell did.

        The Unix API had mostly be licensed or not properly copyrighted (at the time you needed to add copyright notices and register copyright) originally such that is was available for use by Linux.

        Linux didn't copy anything (SCO scraped together a few dozen matching lines but they weren't illegitimately copied).

        SCO released it's own version of LInux with the relevant code in under the GPL.

        IBM had licenses by various routes anyway.

    2. Federal

      Re: If Oracle want APIs copyrighted

      Looks like IBM (home to Codd and where SQL was invented) already took care of that:

      All those API description pages are copyrighted by IBM 1983, and there are almost certainly earlier copyrights.

  3. alain williams Silver badge

    If they allow copyright on APIs ...

    then they should also make the following sorts of things proprietary and charge people a fee for building compatible parts: anything that uses a nut/bolt type thread; anything that uses an AAA battery; anything that uses a 3 pin plug; readers of books published in a new font; ...

    The EU courts wisely say that APIs cannot be copyrighted. Hopefully the USA judges will take note.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If they allow copyright on APIs ...

      The US judges find it very difficult to understand that anywhere outside of the US actually exists, so they are hardly likely to pay any attention to a non-US court.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby

        Re: If they allow copyright on APIs ...

        The US judges find it very difficult to understand that anywhere outside of the US actually exists, so they are hardly likely to pay any attention to a non-US court.

        You do realize that US based judges and courts rule based on the following:

        - the arguments raised in front of them

        - the law itself

        and they ignore everything else.

        So it doesn't matter what the EU thinks. Or what their laws say...

        They have their hands tied.

        1. kwhitefoot

          Re: If they allow copyright on APIs ...

          Has the US ceased to be a common law country? US courts take account of precedent as well.

          To say that they ignore everything except the argument and the law better descirbes Roman law countries (except that precedent does have a role in those even if it is less important than in common law jusrisdictions).

          I suspect that the higher courts are also well aware of legal developments in other legal systems and may well use knowledge of them to inform decisions in their own jurisdictions.

          IANAL etc. (and I suspect you are not either).

          1. Ian Michael Gumby

            Re: If they allow copyright on APIs ...

            "Has the US ceased to be a common law country? US courts take account of precedent as well."

            You clearly haven't spent time in court.

            The lawyers raise the arguments and raise precedence.

            Sure the judge can use their knowledge of the law, but if they don't know about the precedence, and the lawyers don't raise it... there you go.

            Now that's just the judge. Jury trials... the jury hears the argument and bases their decisions on the arguments made by the lawyers.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: If they allow copyright on APIs ...

              "The lawyers raise the arguments and raise precedence..."

              Ian, regardless of the rights and wrongs of this specific matter, you don't increase our confidence in your legal expertise by spelling "precedents" wrong.

          2. Tom 13

            Re: Has the US ceased to be a common law country?

            Red herring.

            There are no common law countries and there are no Roman law countries. For the most part we have a mix of both, except in those countries following Conan law.

            Given the mix of both, the relevant legal topic, patents, falls under Roman law.

            Moreover, according to our Constitution and subsequent legal decisions (most noticeably Marbury v. Madison), the US Supreme Court makes final decisions about law for the US. That means that the US constitution sets the primary boundary and US court decisions, not prevailing sentiments in European courts, set the secondary boundaries.

        2. Tom 13

          Re: You do realize that US based judges and courts rule based on the following:

          Meh, sometimes. If we were that consistent we'd have fewer problems. The fact that one of the judges has shown anything other than skepticism about Oracles claims shows at least one of them isn't willing to follow precedent.

          Your example with the bolt is extremely flawed. First up, nuts, bolts, screws etc are too old a concept to be covered by patents. What has been covered is novel ways in which to drive them or perhaps physical makeup to eliminate some other problem (galvanized nails come to mind). Hence you could patent the Philips head on the basis that the cross pattern prevented slippage which was an issue with flat heads. But if I use a flat head screw where you've specified a Philips head it's all legit. I'll have to match your diameter and thread rate, but those aren't patentable. What Google did was match the diameter and thread rate of the interface and put a flat head screw instead of Philips.

    2. Mikel

      Re: If they allow copyright on APIs ...

      To allow copyright APIs is to end software compatibility forever. Software development comes to a full stop.

    3. Ian Michael Gumby

      @ Alain Re: If they allow copyright on APIs ...

      Actually no.

      I will be down voted by commentards but oh well...

      First off nuts and bolts can be patented. Like barb wire.

      But those patents have long since been gone. (Patents only have a limited life span.)

      However if you create a new and modern take on the bolt, you can patent it.

      In short, your argument falls completely apart.

      The API is a public exposed interface which does actually have some creativity involved.

      Google could have created their own APIs that did roughly the same thing, however Google wanted the compatibility of Java. (But its not java, which is their claim. )

      Suppose I have a system and I say my API call is foo(something)

      I'm successful and many people like my product and its API.

      Now you create a competing product that you want developers to automatically familiar with my APIs to be able to use your product.

      Rather than creating bar(something) which is analogous to the same thing my foo() does, you just copy my APIs.

      Depending on the oral arguments... its going to get interesting.

      1. Sirius Lee

        Re: @ Alain If they allow copyright on APIs ...

        I agree with HollyHopDrive. The API analogy is the 'Book'. It has methods (APIs) of

        'OpenAt(int PageNumber)',


        'Write(int pageNumber, int chapter, string title, string content)'

        'Read()' might return an object called 'Chapter' with properties like 'Title' and 'Content'.

        An API is not a finished book, it is the means to create a book and is not is copyrightable. The specific number of chapters, their titles and the chapter content of a specific book instance are open to copyright.

        This distinction between the abstract concept of an API and a physical instance of an object seems to be lost on legal types in much the same way as the rationale for legalese is lost on non-legal types. But that doesn't mean the rationale for legalese is irrelevant.

      2. ElReg!comments!Pierre

        Re: @ Alain If they allow copyright on APIs ...

        Ian, are you really mixing patents into that copyright case? Really?

        1. Ian Michael Gumby

          Re: @ Alain If they allow copyright on APIs ...


          I was merely following a poster's argument.

          Go back up the thread.

          The point is that many comentards go off half cocked and post weird shit that makes no sense.

          Oracle's argument is very subtle and if you understand software development, you'll see that they actually do have a case. Unfortunately its a very difficult argument to understand how an API could deserve copyright protection. (An outline isn't the final work and thus doesn't deserve copyright protection is a much easier thing to understand. Until you realize that the APIs are not merely just an outline...)

          Like I've said in an earlier post... we all know what Google did.

          We all know that they are guilty.

          But what we can't prove is that they are guilty and that's the nut Oracle has to deal with.

          (And for the slower comentards... the burden of proof is on Oracle to prove guilt to the satisfaction of the judge so while they may be guilty, they are not proven guilty.)

  4. blofse

    Oracle, please don't make people leave Java, as that is my main source of employment!

    But seriously, using this argument by Oracle, you could say that all shop facades could be copyrighted. Sure, they all sell different products and have different staff, but they all have windows and doors as an INTERFACE to the outside world and the inside shop.

    So basically Oracle wants to copyright an open interface? So does that mean that anything that uses the entityManager in Java could be claimed to be infringing Oracles copyright? I hope not!

    Taking the piss indeed.

    1. The First Dave

      No, that is a rubbish analogy, so how about we just look at specifics:

      Google wanted to use Java, so that they didn't have to re-invent the wheel, but realised that they couldn't have enough control to "optimise" it for mobile use.

      Google still wanted Android developers to be able to write Java programs that would run on Android, without having to go to all the effort of creating their own eco-system, so they copied the "look-and-feel" of Java, while doing a re-write of the Java language.

      If you _really_ want an analogy, it is the re-write of the IBM BIOS. The guys that did this were legal because it was done in a clean-room environment. In this case it is patently obvious that the was NOT a clean-room re-write.

      1. blofse

        I think you may have missed my point and slight sarcasm, the key word was interface :-)

  5. theblackhand

    I look forward to...

    Oracle disclosing how they valued the API's as part of their acquisition of Sun.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If they wrote their own code then copyright simply does not apply.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oi, Larry

    Do you want to borrow my copy of "Barry Trotter And The Shameless Parody", but maybe "Barry Trotter and the Dead Horse" is more apt.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oi, Larry

      Paradoy is fair-use, so it isn't necessarily down to the copyrightness of the original.

      1. Simon Harris

        Re: Oi, Larry

        That's never stopped J K Rowling before...

        "Rowling not laughing about Army's comic"...,0,3979718.story

        1. Irongut

          Re: Oi, Larry

          Not that Harry Potter is original in the first place. It is a shameless copy of a number of other works, most notable the Books of Magic whose protagonist looks almost identical to Harry.

  8. All names Taken


    akin to an author copying the chapter titles and topic sentences of an advance copy of a Harry Potter book and then paraphrasing the rest and claiming it as fair use

    Seems a bit of a strange interpretation.

    As others have noticed if precedent is set it means that house brick making organisations can now claim anything built with its house bricks owes a copyright fee or has breached copyright.

    Maybe even power supply unit manufacturers can then sue any device makers for using PSU to power their devices and of course the utility company manufacturing electricity for public consumption will now need to argue it out with the electric cable manufacturers to see who has copyright breaches regarding stuff that is powered by mains electricity.

    You humans! Aren't you funny little things?

    1. Ian Michael Gumby

      Re: Que?

      As others have noticed if precedent is set it means that house brick making organisations can now claim anything built with its house bricks owes a copyright fee or has breached copyright.

      Sorry but that's pure BS.

      I think you really need to learn more about the law before you go off half cocked.

  9. RyokuMas

    The Google lawyer's name...

    “Yes, but only the command structure,” Google lawyer Bob Van Nest said.

    Had to double take as the first time I read this, my eyes saw "Bob Van Nest", my brain registered "Bob Vistakin"... must be the end of the day.

    1. real_alias

      Re: The Google lawyer's name...

      Errrr - perhaps Bob Van Nested Loop - give me a BREAK! - ducking...

  10. Gerard Krupa

    APIs, clearly as secret as an advance book copy

    "Google’s argument was akin to an author copying the chapter titles and topic sentences of an advance copy of a Harry Potter book and then paraphrasing the rest and claiming it as fair use"

    But only if J K Rowling was shouting these at every other author at the top of her voice.

  11. Trevor 3

    This is a tough one...

    As a thought experiment:

    You have 2 developers, A and B. They are both tasked with writing some code to do the same thing.

    Both attended the same classes, and have exactly the same skill level. Both are highly nerdy types with a particular affinity for writing highly optimised code. Both also don't like leaving comments in the code.

    They sit in separate rooms to write the solution.

    When they have both finished they leave their respective rooms and hand in their work.

    Its the same.

    Who holds the copyright?

    Can you tell who wrote what?

    Isn't this in a similar vein to copyrighting the sum 1+1=2?

    1. Joe User

      Re: This is a tough one...

      When they have both finished they leave their respective rooms and hand in their work.

      Its the same.

      Fat chance of that. Unless the assignment was very simple, their code will not be the same.

      1. roger stillick

        Pragmatic Programming = If it Works it is Good / if it Doesn't Work it is No Good...

        Way back in our 1st college programming class the wife n i were assigned individual projects to read / write to a Table and to be able to print the output of specific searches... we were asked not to collaborate...

        In class, both programs were put up on the board and the instructor asked the question= which one is right

        ?? ( both worked fine w/ wildly different coding )...after a few minutes of awkward class comments, the instructor wrote= PRAGMATIC on the board and asked= does anyone know what this means ??

        Ah Ha, a moment of clarity... There is no ONE way to make a platform do something, Only the IDEA of the platform doing it...the actual code depends on the cleverness of the person doing it...If it Works, it is Good...

        IMHO= the idea IS patentable, the actual code, if different IS NOT a patent violation...Lawyers should know better...RS.

      2. wikkity

        Re: Unless the assignment was very simple

        Maybe like a rangeCheck method?

    2. chris lively

      Re: This is a tough one...

      According to Oracle: the first person to "copyright" it would own it. Obviously the other one copied it.

    3. Joseph Lord

      Re: This is a tough one...

      They both do (or neither if it so obviously the only way to express the information). Copyright only prevents copying so a third could do the task years later and if they did it independently they would hold a copyright too.

      A fourth person could then come along and copy providing they didn't say who they copied they would probably get away with it as the others wouldn't know which of them was copied.

      Patents it does matter who is first (to the patent office) and you can infringe with an independent invention unknowingly. Copyright is the opposite which is why I hate when people talk about intellectual property without being specific.

      1. dssf

        Re: This is a tough one...

        I hope this can be applied to Lotus SmartSuite.....sequestered re-development with the intent to enhance and make up-to-date.

    4. AlanG79

      Re: This is a tough one...

      In answer to the question, "who holds the copyright": the one with best (i.e. most expensive) lawyer.

    5. Ian Michael Gumby

      Re: This is a tough one...

      But you don't have Developers A and B.

      You have company A who produces a product and company B who wants to use the product, but doesn't want to pay the licensing fee. So they create their own like product. In an effort to make adoption of their product to people who use company A's product easier, they keep the same APIs.

      We all know what Google did.

      We all know why they did it.

      What Oracle can't prove is that what they did, didn't occur via legal manners. (using a clean room) Although using the same published APIs could be a violation and that's what Oracle is arguing.

      Its not a straight forward and simple case or argument and its more than likely the judge will get it wrong.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: This is a tough one...

        Or another way of looking at it.

        Developer A said "let there be a language where statement A does B, statement C does D etc"

        Developer A happened to then implement that in code, Separately developer B implemented the same thing in different code.

        If developer A is allowed to claim that all implementations of their language are copyright then Dennis Richie is going to be very rich - and Oracle are going to have a real problem finding a C compiler to build their database product.

      2. Tom 13

        @ Ian Michael Gumby 05-12-2013 20:39

        There is one true statement in your post. Unfortunately it is this bit:

        its more than likely the judge will get it wrong.

    6. Raedwald Bretwalda

      Re: This is a tough one...

      You are confusing patents with copyrights. Understandable, because people and organizations that want to extract unearned rent (such as Oracle, here) often try to confuse them by using the term Interllectual Property as an umbrealla term to imply they are the same thing.

  12. John G Imrie

    I wan't Oricle to win


    It will be fun watching every other company they use an API from, using their arguments in court.

    1. Sandpit

      Re: I wan't Oricle to win

      Absolutely this. The mess that will result can only further point out what a mess the legal systems have become over technology and software.

    2. Joseph Lord

      Re: I wan't Oricle to win

      This isn't about using an API but reimplementing.

      What are you imagining might cause them issues? I expect that they largely have licenses whether open source, liberal ones from standards orgs or commercial ones.

      Google could have implemented Dalvik under the GPL but they chose not to. Much as I hate Oracle I don't have much sympathy for Google either. Ask yourself if you would feel the same if it was old Sun instead of Oracle and MS instead of Google would you feel the same?

      1. deive

        Re: I wan't Oricle to win

        "Google could have implemented Dalvik under the GPL but they chose not to."

        I think Dalvik is open source (Apache License, Version 2.0)...

      2. Tom 13

        Re: if it was old Sun instead of Oracle

        Yes, I would. And honestly I blame Sun as much as Oracle. Something is either open source or it isn't. You only wind up with these nutty lawsuits when some idiotic company/person tries to straddle both camps.

    3. AndyTempo

      Re: I wan't Oricle to win

      It's not the API they use; it's the APIs they implement

      probably some of those in the SQL language but that all depends on the license that the IP holder (IBM I guess) has put on it.

      1. localzuk Silver badge

        Re: I wan't Oricle to win

        What's the difference, in real terms, between implementing and using an API?

        To implement an API, you look at the API and create classes, methods and properties around it. When using an API? You, err, create classes, methods and properties around it.

        The only difference is which 'side' of the interface that code works on.

        Why would having it on the 'calling' side mean it is ok, but on the receiving side suddenly its a travesty and copyright theft?

  13. Real Ale is Best

    I miss GrokLaw

    As title.

    1. btrower

      Re: I miss GrokLaw

      @Real Ale is Best:

      Me too. Sadly, PJ's reason for shutting it down makes little sense. We are all still under surveillance, we just have less information and contact with people who can help us out.

      I visit Groklaw off and on hoping she has had a change of heart. I expect she will, but it has been a long wait.

  14. btrower

    For me, Java was already dead

    I was never a big fan of Java anyway, but as long as it was 'owned' by a company it was always vulnerable to action by that company. I stopped development in Java the day Oracle gained control. When Oracle gets control of anything, it is bad for most of us. I stopped even using Java when it became clear that for practical purposes it could not be secured.

    From what I can tell, the reason Java is so popular is because it requires a huge ecosystem to deal with all the buggy code built in it. I think Java got such a foothold because alternatives were not that great. Java's many libraries and existing code are compelling, but not enough for me to risk becoming Oracle's bitch.

    1. chris lively

      Re: For me, Java was already dead

      The sheer number of workarounds needed to get stuff to work in Java is enormous. Years ago I said Nevermore and I've been much happier since.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For me, Java was already dead

      It seems to have become the COBOL of modern times. Not being a Java programmer, I've wondered whether the reported problems with large bloated Java systems come from the enterprise dev environments that use to produce large, bloated COBOL systems, whether it was something inherent in Java, or whether it is one of those tools that give devs brain-damage.

  15. Mark #255

    I thought that Rosenkranz and Guildernstern were dead.

    (My coat's the one with the Compleat Works of Shakespear in the pocket.)

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      life imitating art

      The while thing reminds me of Borges' story about Pierre Menard, author of Don Quixote.

      I think there is some justification in being able to claim copyright to a specification, which is what an API is. However, I don't think you can start charging for the spec ex ante just because someone is not using your version. This is why specs are often written by industry bodiesand made available at nominal cost. Either way oracle loses.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: why specs are often written by industry bodies

        I'm not sure about Europe, but in the US there is another way to do it. You write the spec, copyright it, and leave it unpublished and protected as a trade secret. Companies and people who then want to use the spec sign specific legal contracts providing them access to the spec.

        But that doesn't apply to Sun/Oracle either.

        Quite honestly, given the necessary outcome for the IT ecosystem to survive, what I would most like to see happen at the conclusion of the case is Oracle getting bitch slapped: paying Google's costs as well as a fine to the court for pursuing such a frivolous case in the first place.

  16. ElReg!comments!Pierre


    You know, the other day I was remembering the SCO saga and thinking "Nowadays no company would pursue an obviously viciously bent argument for so long".

    Turns out I may have been wrong.

  17. Simon Harris

    By those rules...

    Presumably Dennis Richie's estate will be sueing anybody who's implemented the C standard library.

    1. Daniel von Asmuth

      Re: By those rules...

      They might sue anybody who types any word with the letter C in it.

  18. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Google had taken “the most important, the most appealing” parts of Java...

    ... and left Oracle with terrible documentation, a JVM with enough security holes to drive a bus through, and the Ask Toolbar.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Google had taken “the most important, the most appealing” parts of Java...

      The Ask toolbar is pretty good though.

  19. chris lively

    Maybe we should start a site where everyone publishes their method headers so that we can ensure no one uses the same method name and/or signature twice?

    Dear god, if Oracle is successful the entire industry might implode.

    1. Mikel

      >Dear god, if Oracle is successful the entire industry might [will] implode.

      Fixed that for you.

    2. LaeMing


      Just use UUIDs for all your method and variable names.

      Come on! It will be fun! Honest!

  20. Don Jefe

    The biggest issue in copyright and patent cases are the insane amounts the 'injured' party claim as just compensation.

    I realize it's potentially a double edged sword, but some reasonable limit needs to be applied to these hearings. The fact they'll still seek $1B+ in damages is more than enough reason to keep this, and similar, trials going. A business would be catastrophically stupid not to pursue that kind of money, it's worth pouring crazy resources into for many, many, many years on just the chance you might win.

    Numbers tend to lose their weight when considered against runaway success stories like Apple or Google where billion dollar figures are tossed around all the time. But the fact of the matter is 99.99999% of products are never going to generate $1B+ in revenue. It takes thousands of people working in unison for years to cross that $1B threshold and that's only if you get lucky. A fucked up court case like is basically a 50/50 chance at success, you'd be crazy not to chase after that.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      How about 0?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's Americans For You

      Lot'sa Gurrrrnnns and big ones.

  21. sisk

    Google’s argument was akin to an author copying the chapter titles and topic sentences of an advance copy of a Harry Potter book and then paraphrasing the rest and claiming it as fair use.

    No, it's more akin to copying the technique used to put ink to paper. At best it'd be like using the same font for chapter headers.

    But here's the frightening thing about this: the people deciding the case are essentially clueless. They don't realize that an API is nothing more than a basic set of instructions. With their ignorance and the hot air that Oracle's blowing up their tailpipes it's entirely possible that this nonsense will go Oracle's way.

    Yep, I'll have nightmares about the future state of the industry if they manage to set THAT precedent.

  22. Randy Hudson

    I agree that fair use could apply if Google were trying to create its own implementation of java. Instead, they have created a derived work that has nothing to do with interoperability, etc.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Why are you even commenting on a tech site?

    2. tom dial Silver badge

      According to my understanding it has quite a bit to do with interoperability, at least at the development level. Developers can use the Java language and related tools to develop for Android devices so long as they limit themselves to the Java APIs that Dalvik implements. That is a huge gain for them and for all users of Android devices. It hurt Oracle to the extent that they were planning to recover part of their Sun purchase price by licensing the mobile version of Java.

      My recollection is that Google did not consider the mobile JVM fit for their purpose, and Oracle declined to license the full JVM for mobile use, at least at rates agreeable to Google. So Google did a reimplementation of the part of the API they felt they needed, similar to what Compaq did with the PC BIOS. To the great benefit of a great many

      1. Joseph Lord

        > So Google did a reimplementation of the part of the API they felt they needed, similar to what Compaq did with the PC BIOS.

        Except unlike Compaq they didn't do a clean room reimplementation from a specification they just copied. And unlike Compaq they didn't produce something compatible.

        1. John G Imrie

          Cytation needed.

          Except unlike Compaq they didn't do a clean room reimplementation from a specification they just copied.

        2. rurwin

          They did too, do a clean-room implementation

          All the code differs, except for a tiny piece that is not used on mobile phones (it's in the test suite), which was written by a contractor, and for which Google has admitted fault. That code is not at question in the appeal.

          All the rest is entirely new except for the names of objects, classes, methods and parameters. Even the documentation is reimplemented (and, in many cases, better.)

          The PC BIOS issue is precisely the same as this case. IBM even published the source-code for it (in the Technical Reference manual.) But it could still not be used in clone PCs without infringing copyright. The PC clones only became successful when they had a 100% compatible clean-room implementation. Compaq was never 100% compatible; Phoenix was the company that nailed it. ( )

  23. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Help me Ayatollah, you are my only hope

    Microsoft, NetApp and EMC have all filed written arguments supporting Oracle’s side of the copyright fight

    Fatwas demanding stoning of the whole board of the directors and their legal team as well as the families of the same including their offspring -- and this in the most cruel and inhuman way (NONE SHALL BE SPARED! ESPECIALLY THE PARASITIC LEGALS) --- would, I think, not be totally out of place in this case of a rank beggar-my-neighbour manoeuvers ordering up state protection of monopolistic policies.

    Yes, I have NO CONFIDENCE WHATSOEVER that the judge will just fart in the general direction of these festering grabbers of IP "rights".

    Luckily, twenty years from now these companies will all be dead and gone and "IP protection" will be one of these retarded ideas of dinosaur whitey. Unfortunately we will have have to talk MAJOR ASIAN LANGUAGE instead to have any economic relevance whatsoever.

  24. Thrud61

    If this gets any sort or approval then this is surely going to open the door for all sorts of legal action, I'm guessing that WINE, MONO, MAME and all sorts of other emulators would be on the hit list from some of the bigger companies should they decide they care enough. This would have a fair chance of affecting various large open source projects as well.

  25. M Gale

    Still waiting...

    ...for a certain alleged Java developer (who totally isn't a Microsoft troll) to be hopping on here and telling us how it's all the Gnuliban's fault.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Still waiting...


  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Though not surprised that Oracle has the nerve to try to copyright an API, and hoping that they get what they deserve - to shrink, to wither and at last to die, I lack all confidence in legal sense. These cases are about how lawyers to try to maximise their incomes; no defence is possible where those who made the laws are also profiting at our expense.

  27. Paul 70

    God, I wish Groklaw were still around

    Many a happy hour spent going through this case last time around - it's all still there if you want to have a look. Oracle are playing a dangerous game in my opinion and I hope they do not win. The API "copied" if just the headings etc - the building blocks of how to interface nicely with other programs and it is this interface specification which makes the IT world talk and tick.

  28. bigtimehustler

    Thats crazy, how is it the same as Harry Potter book, if I wrote a totally new book containing different content, but the character was a young wizard on a mission and he wins in the end, I would be copying the equivalent of an API but changing the implementation in the methods behind the API. Their argument makes no sense and in fact proves themselves wrong. They can't ask for a change in the law so that they can retrospectively apply it to Google, regardless of whether the change is valid or not (which it is in no way valid at all in my opinion).

  29. Frumious Bandersnatch

    But then ...

    By Oracle's logic, wouldn't Java's "interface" keyword be illegal, since it can allow objects to masquerade as someone else's proprietary interface? The language allows what it allows.

  30. John Savard


    While I wish it were impossible to copyright an API, there is precedent for this. The instruction set of the MIPS architecture, for example, is protected by copyright, and so clones of it can't be sold without a licence - as was noted in news stories about the Chinese Godson processor.

    1. LaeMing

      Re: Precedent

      Wasn't it just a couple of specific instructions, which Godson didn't implement for that reason?

  31. Adam 37

    SQL & OO

    A) So Oracle are admitting to stealing SQL from IBM & given the value they have derived from that......the damages should be?

    Were I an IBM lawyer I would be popping round to Larry's gaff.....

    B) OO....extends..

    * The method has a signature that is override-equivalent to that of

    * any public method declared in {@linkplain Object}.

    public @interface Override {


    So that's dead then as Override depends on copying the API signature exactly....which is now copyright theft according to larry.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “the most important, the most appealing”

    So does this imply that Oracle are now saying that Java ME is not important or appealing? One of their issues with android is that it's taking away business from Java ME.

  33. Stevie


    Won't this open the door for IBM to sue Snoracle over the whole SQL API to a relational database thing?

    1. rurwin

      Re: Bah!

      It's a nice dream but I think you will find that IBM, unlike Oracle, will decide not to cut off their own noses.


    Why not just license under the GPL?

    "Sun Develops A Licensing Regime To Foster A Community And Ensure Compatibility

    Although Oracle owns the copyright on Java SE and the corresponding packages, Oracle encourages their use by others—both a vast community of programmers writing clever apps and businesses developing proprietary and competing products. To accommodate all comers, Sun/Oracle offers three different licenses:

    (1) The General Public License (“GPL”) is free of charge..."


    Case: 13-1021 Document: 43 Filed: 02/11/2013

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