Oracle v. Google: Java API Copyrightability Put to the Test in Smartphone Technology Battle

November/December 2012ABA Landslide Magazine
In this article, Herrick Intellectual Property and Technology Group ChairBarry Werbin analyzes Oracle America, Inc. v. Google, Inc. – a case of first impression waged between two industry titans, concerning the copyrightability of application programing interfaces (APIs). Barry's article primarily addresses the court's ultimate conclusion rendered in its 47-page opinion on May 31, 2012, that, as a matter of law, the particular attributes Google utilized from the structure, sequence, and organization of 37 Java API packages in issue are not protectable by copyright under the 1976 Copyright Act.  The decision is the first reported opinion addressing the copyrightability of APIs under U.S. copyright law and is noteworthy because it involves the ubiquitous JAVA operating system, which is used in Internet web applications and more than three billion mobile phones, including those running Google's Android operating system.