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Controversial Google, Oracle case could put future API usage in jeopardy
Both Google and Oracle are tech giants and their technology is ingrained into our everyday lives. The latter company owns the Java platform, which is used in most pieces of technology. Even with all of Oracle’s success, the company is looking to target other tech giants.
Oracle has decided to sue Google over copyrighted API’s, more specifically their usage within Google’s Android operating system. Google claims the usage consisted of only a small portion of the Java Standard Library. However small the usage may be, the code had still been used.
After Silicon Valley judge, U.S. District Judge William Alsup, sided with Google in 2012 over the matter, the U.S. Federal Circuit appealed the findings.
On Tuesday, the Obama Administration weighed in on the matter and sided with Oracle. This controversial siding, while not meaning the Supreme Court will refuse the case, does lead to a worrisome future under the current administration. Couple this with the Patriot Act — in deployment and not usage — and we have a problem.
A spokesperson for Google issued the following statement over the matter:
We appreciate the Solicitor General’s careful review of this issue, however we’re disappointed with these conclusions. We still look forward to defending the concepts of interoperability that have traditionally contributed to innovation in the software industry.
While we understand the need to protect created content, it also stifles progress when developing applications. US copyright law paves the way for many patent trolls who often send cease and desist letters to companies as blackmail. This may not be on the same level as Edge Games — suing companies over the usage of the word “edge” — it is a concerning topic. APIs are the lifeblood of application development. Their function of allowing different platforms to talk to each other is crucial, but if these systems are dragged into a degenerate Patent War then the world of programming is in trouble.
Oracle was of course pleased with the decision:
The Solicitor General’s brief agrees with the Federal Circuit’s decision and affirms the importance of copyright protection as an incentive for software innovation.