The case continues

Google say Java is “functional”, not creative work in Oracle Android lawsuit

Chris Mayer

Oracle had its say, but now it’s Google’s turn to file its appeal in the drawn-out court case.


Three months on from
Oracle’s opening appeal
in the Android court
battle, Google yesterday
filed its own
brief and cross-appeal.

In the
100-page filing
, Google states
that no matter how “creative and useful the Java API may be,
it is fundamentally a functional, utilitarian work” designed for
the “practical convenience of programmers”.

To further distinguish the difference between
creative and functional works, Google take a swipe at Oracle’s
in which the fictional “Ann Droid” steals
parts of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” after seeing the advance

A work of imaginative fiction like Harry Potter serves
no such utilitarian function. Its chapter headings and topic
sentences exist entirely for communicative and aesthetic
purposes—not to “bring about a certain result” when used in a

No court accepts Oracle’s premise that functional
works like the Java API obtain the same level of copyright
protection as works of imaginative fiction.

Later in the filing, Google argue that when a
program element becomes an industry standard, “the loss of
intellectual-property protection over time is nothing new”, citing
examples such as Aspirin and Thermos. Google go on to claim that a
“distinctive” term in regular use “must be free to use”, in order
to enter and compete in the market. However,

Florian Mueller
contends that this is more
applicable to trademark law, rather than copyright law.

Google believe that Oracle are too late to claim
a reversal on the copyrightability of the 7,000 lines of
non-implementing code within the 37 Java APIs in question,
it “failed to challenge the
instruction or verdict form” during the trial or in

its opening brief. The Mountain View company
then went on to add that should the Court grant
it will go to the
district court “on remand to retry” its fair use

Late last year, Oracle was ordered to stump up
$1.1m by the presiding Judge Alsup, after the jury ruled Google had
fairly used Java APIs within the Android platform. Back in
February, the database giant called the judge’s ruling a “basic
legal error” and that Google’s usage of Android was “decidedly

Alongside its response, Google
filed a cross-appeal, which Oracle must reply to
by July 5. The case, as ever, continues.

Image courtesy of Dan4th

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