Oracle America, Inc. v. Google Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright
  • Date Filed: 05-31-2012
  • Case #: C 10-03561 WHA
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Alsup
  • Full Text Opinion

Copyright covers only the specific writing of program code, not program function, or presentation.

Opinion (Alsup): Java is a free programming language available on Oracle’s website, which is used to create a “virtual machine” to develop programs on multiple hardware types. Google failed to reach an agreement with Sun Microsystems (“Sun”) (Oracle purchased Sun in 2010) to implement Java in whole in its android phones, so Google developed their own virtual machine (“Dalvik”). Java and Dalvik both operate as a three-tiered system consisting of a package, a class, and a method that performs most of the work (e.g. library, bookshelf, book). For the purpose of providing interoperability for Java programmers to write programs (“Apps”) for their android platform, Google included 37 packages that were identical to Java, but implemented each in a different manner. The Ninth Circuit has limited the Copyright Protection Act section 102(b) such that it does not “extend to any…system, method of operation, … regardless of the from in which it is …embodied in such work.” The House Report accompanying section 102(b) supported this conclusion. Therefore, the Court of Appeals found Google to be free to use any of the identical processes included in Java programming package so long as each package was implemented in a different manner. The structure, sequence and organization of the packages were free to use without license, and Oracle’s claim was DISMISSED.

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