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The Decade-Long Lawsuit Ending in Google’s Victory

Publications / Apr 12, 2021

After a 10-year legal battle, involving billions of dollars in potential damages, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Google did not violate Oracle’s copyrights related to Java programming. The lengthy litigation between the two tech giants had been closely watched by the tech industry and, particularly, by software application companies. The case centered around how software developers use application program interfaces, or APIs, of existing applications to facilitate interoperability between various companies’ software and hardware. While the Supreme Court’s decision presents a major win for Google, it avoided addressing a critical threshold issue of whether API software may be copyrighted in the first place under U.S. law. The Court’s decision assumed that APIs may be subject to copyright protection, but it found that Google’s copying was nevertheless an allowable “fair use” of Oracle’s software under the law.  Many software companies and legal experts had hoped that the Court would rule definitively that APIs – which typically only tell software what to do, but not how to do it – could not be protected by copyrights. Because the Supreme Court avoided addressing this larger copyright eligibility issue, and instead relied on the legal doctrine of fair use, companies that rely upon and utilize APIs must still be wary of potential copyright infringement claims.

See full article here (Hebrew): גוגל ניצחה את אורקל ב”תביעת העשור”. איזה לקח למדו המתכנתים? – גלובס (globes.co.il)

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