Grüneberg and Myers - Intellectual Property Law


News and Recent Developments

Not Fair Use to Copy JAVA API

Not fair use to copy JAVA API.  In Oracle America, Inc. v. Google LLC, the Fed. Cir. reversed the district court’s denial of Oracle’s motion for JMOL and remanded for a trial on damages.  Google’s was alleged to have used 37 packages of Oracle’s Java application programming interface (“API packages”) in its Android operating system without authorization, infringing Oracle’s patents and copyrights.  Preceded by a lengthy discussion of the standard of review in the fair use context, the Fed. Cir. found 1) the purpose and character of use to be commercial in view of Google’s profit from exploitation of the copyrighted material and that Google’ use was not transformative weighing against a finding of fair use; 2) the nature of the copyrighted work of 37 API packages involved some level of creativity, but favored a finding of fair use; 3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used was viewed from the perspective that Google copies 11,330 more lines than the 170 lines necessary to write in Java, weighing against fair use, but finding this factor to be at best neutral and arguably weighing against fair use; and 4) the effect upon the potential market was that Google’s conduct would result in a substantially adverse impact on the potential market for the original work and its derivatives.  Weighing the four factors the Fed. Cir. concluded that Google’ use of the declaring code and SSO of the 37 API packages was not fair as a matter of law.

Richard Chinn