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Oracle Google Patents Software The Courts

Tech Companies Set To Appeal 2012 Oracle Vs. Google Ruling 198

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-do-you-think-now? dept.
sl4shd0rk writes "In 2012, Oracle took Google to court over Java. In the balance hung the legalities of writing code to mimic the functionality of copyrighted software. The trial was set to determine how all future software would be written (and by whom). Oracle's entire case boiled down to an inadvertent 9 lines of code; an argument over a simple and basic comparison of a range of numbers. The presiding judge (who had some background in writing software) didn't buy it stating he had 'written blocks of code like rangeCheck a hundred times before.' A victory for more than just Google. This week, however, Microsoft, EMC, Oracle and Netapp have filed for appeal and seek to reverse the ruling. It's not looking good as the new bevy of judges Indicating they may side with Oracle on the issue."
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Tech Companies Set To Appeal 2012 Oracle Vs. Google Ruling

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  • by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:13AM (#45606847) Homepage Journal

    Soon no one will be able to do stuff on their own, as they will be sued into oblivion just for thinking about something.

  • Bull hockey (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pegr (46683) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:18AM (#45606875) Homepage Journal

    Copyright covers creative expressions, not functionality. If I write code identical to yours given only a description of what the code should do, the code is not creative enough for copyright.

  • by number6x (626555) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:29AM (#45606947)

    How many times have Microsoft, EMC, Oracle and Netapp implemented api's from other company's copyrighted software in their own code. Reversing this ruling will make their own code illegal.

    In a perverse way, I hope they succeed in overturning the ruling and then proceed to loose all profits for the next few years. The stockholders of these companies should be swinging a very large axe in the 'C' level offices of this band of companies for even thinking of overturning this ruling. A win for Microsoft, EMC, Oracle and Netapp would pretty much destroy the viability of the software industry in the USA.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:30AM (#45606955) Homepage

    Soon no one will be able to do stuff on their own, as they will be sued into oblivion just for thinking about something.

    I believe that's the point.

    By the time these large companies patent everything and claim ownership of 'innovations' which had been around for years or were widespread knowledge already, the goal is to more or less ensure there's not a damned thing you can do with technology for which you won't be beholden to them.

    It's rent-seeking on a large scale, and the governments are just handing it over to them.

    At a certain point, it will be impossible for new companies to create anything at all, because the web of patents and the like will be so extensive we'll have only a few large players.

    Welcome to the oligarchy of the future. It will only keep getting worse.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:42AM (#45607035)

    int i;
    * door explodes *
    "oracle police! hands off the keyboard and lie down on the floor!"

  • by Tx (96709) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:46AM (#45607045) Journal

    No. Big companies buy up huge defensive patent portfolios, then when they end up infringing each other's IP, they just work out cross-licensing deals with each other; as long as a company has a big enough portfolio of relevant IP, they are pretty safe. It's all very cosy.

    Who isn't safe is any new player trying to enter the market, who might as well give up, or at best hope to be bought by one of the established players rather than sued into oblivion.

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:11AM (#45607235)

    It's not surprising that the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals is looking to side with Oracle. They're notorious for favoring an absurdly over-broad interpretation of patent law, and have been described as a "rogue court [arstechnica.com]". Fortunately, the Supreme Court has shown a great deal of skepticism for the Federal Circuit's decisions, and this crosses traditional party lines (many of the rulings overriding the FC were unanimous or near-unanimous).

    My prediction is that the patent shills on the Federal Circuit will side with Oracle, but that the ruling will then be appealed to the Supreme Court, where it will be overturned, setting a binding precedent that APIs cannot be copyrighted.

  • by scsirob (246572) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:30AM (#45607395)

    If Oracle succeeds in claiming copyright on the Java API then the next step is natural languages. Today an author can claim copyright on a story written in English. Claiming copyright on the Java API is like claiming copyright on the English language. Every Slashdot member who has ever written an article or even a comment would be liable for copyright infringement if this flies.

    I do not know how to stop this insanity but there must be a way to stop big corporations from taking and claiming ownership of everything. This has gone far enough.

  • by mlts (1038732) * on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:03AM (#45607713)

    This is only going to hurt in the long run.

    Code is going to be written. It will just be written in countries that don't have the non-functional [1] IP laws, and the products sold from there.

    This reminds me of the 1990s and how cryptography development was stifled in the US by ITAR laws. It didn't stop crypto development. What happened was that Russia, Germany, and even China started on the process.

    The same thing would happen again. It just means that innovation in coding moves to other countries, perhaps China, Russia, the Ukraine, Brazil, or elsewhere.

    Of course, the genie can be put back in the bottle -- locked down devices can prevent code that hasn't been vetted to run, and on desktops, mandatory DRM stacks would ensure the laws are enforced regardless of borders.

    [1]: Well, functional for a few, but not as a gestalt.

  • by devent (1627873) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:17AM (#45607869) Homepage

    An API is a collection of facts, those can't be changed, they are like axioms in mathematics or words in a language. In math it's 1+1=2 and in API it would read result = new One().add(new One()) // result is Two. Like you can't change the meaning of "+" you can't change the meaning of "add". The copyright should not hold to the axioms but to the implementation, like copyright does not cover words but sentences.

    So if you want to compare an API to a book, then the API are the words of the language the book uses. API is then the words the application is using. You can't copyright words.

  • Re:Bull hockey (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:44AM (#45608189)

    I really like the functionality that Flash, Java applets, Active X (security obviously required)... offered. Javascript in being an open standard is taking something like 10-100x as much CPU to do the same thing.

    You're an illiterate idiot.

  • by TangoMargarine (1617195) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @12:23PM (#45608617) Journal

    You're worried about the *Democrats* giving more money to the 1%? AHAHAHAHAHAA

    Sigh...

  • by VortexCortex (1117377) <`VortexCortex' ` ... -retrograde.com'> on Thursday December 05, 2013 @01:25PM (#45609305) Homepage

    Soon no one will be able to do stuff on their own, as they will be sued into oblivion just for thinking about something.

    I believe that's the point.

    By the time these large companies patent everything and claim ownership of 'innovations' which had been around for years or were widespread knowledge already, the goal is to more or less ensure there's not a damned thing you can do with technology for which you won't be beholden to them.

    It's rent-seeking on a large scale, and the governments are just handing it over to them.

    At a certain point, it will be impossible for new companies to create anything at all, because the web of patents and the like will be so extensive we'll have only a few large players.

    Welcome to the oligarchy of the future. It will only keep getting worse.

    It is FAR worse than you imagine. The current patent laws state that it is not only illegal to sell an infringing technology, but to merely use it yourself. So, even if you, as I do, create your own hardware in your own garage without caring to look at the designs of others, and design hardware and compilers without even a single formal instruction on the topic at hand -- Being that such optimal designs are self evident simply from studying the cybernetic nature of interacting information pools. Even if you've NEVER looked through the patent database -- as all companies tell employees not to do, for risk of treble damages -- your own works can be seen infringing and taken from you. Is that an unlicensed homemade computer or circuit board or OS? Well, we'll be confiscating it for patent infringements. They do not do so currently, but the patent laws say they can prevent your use of technology you've invented independently yourself.

    There is absolutely ZERO evidence that patents and copyrights are beneficial. The US plagiarized the Statute of Anne to include a provision for the development of copyright and patents. This is an ideological assumption, much like creationism: It's a good idea to think of things this way because that's the way we've always thought of things. No one has ever tested the damn hypothesis. No engineer or scientist should agree to run the world's economy based on unproven and untested hypotheses that copyright and patents are beneficial. What if they're very harmfull?! It's egregious to take that risk.

    Let's examine the Telephone, invented by Elisha Gray [wikipedia.org], and yet awarded to Alexander Bell. Regardless of who is the rightful inventor, both worked on the problem. Both invested much time and energy. Gray was prevented from benefiting from his works, while Bell was granted a monopoly over the variable resistor solution. Telephone was actually an iteration. We already knew you could transmit language via wire telegraph, we knew you could transmit tones and sounds, but we just lacked the resolution of modulation required for speech. Look at the very symbol for an ingenious good idea -- The lightbulb. Edison did not invent the incandescent bulb! There were prior patents for it. If Edison hadn't existed we would still have found a cheap gas to fill the bulbs with and extend filament life -- Many were working on the problem, but the rich arrive at the solution sooner.

    Patents have only ever benefited the big guys over the little guys. Artists, researchers, and scientists are foolishly accepting far too little up front pay for what is scarce: Their ability to do work. They bet their efforts away like gambling addicts in a copyright and patent futures market. So much talent is wasted on work that doesn't pan out, so many bright minds are lost to the economic and employment churn of betting on their future earnings. Even if you do invent something valuable, the Immortal Corporations can just wait 20 years before utilizing it. Instead of paying full price for the valuable act of research and creation o

  • by steelfood (895457) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @02:21PM (#45610233)

    Of course, the genie can be put back in the bottle -- locked down devices can prevent code that hasn't been vetted to run, and on desktops, mandatory DRM stacks would ensure the laws are enforced regardless of borders.

    No, sorry, it can't. There's currently enough technological excellence in other parts of the world that they can design and build unlocked general purpose computers for fairly cheap without U.S. involvement.

    The only reason why people pay attention to U.S. laws is because of the strength of U.S. consumers. The U.S. spends and spends. It's a special market unto itself because of how much spending people do, and as a consequence, how competitive the landscape is for those consumer dollars. The money doesn't come from nowhere though. The U.S. has enormous amounts of natural resources to exploit, including a very low overall population density, a habitable climate, and a stable society seen practically nowhere else.

    If it becomes more profitable to entirely ignore the U.S. market though, people will stop catering to the U.S. laws and regulations. This can be brought about in a multitude of ways, but one way that's already in progress is the loss of the middle class and thus the loss of total consumer spending power.

    That'll be the only way things can return to sanity here; after economic intimidation from other countries.

  • by reg (5428) <reg@freebsd.org> on Thursday December 05, 2013 @02:38PM (#45610459) Homepage

    Application Programming Interfaces are like forms - you fill one out and hand it to something to get work done. Then someone hands you back a response. If the Java APIs can be copyrighted then so can the layout of forms. Except US law says forms cannot be copyright (says Wikipedia):

    37 Code of Federal Regulations  202.1(c) (2006) ("Blank forms, such as time cards, graph paper, account books, diaries, bank checks, scorecards, address books, report forms, order forms and the like, which are designed for recording information and do not in themselves convey information [are not subject to copyright]"); see also Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. 99 (1880).

    This is just another example of adding "on a computer" and claiming it is something new.

    Regards,
    -Jeremy

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