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Oracle to Appeal Google Ruling, Maybe All the Way to the Supreme Court

It probably comes as no surprise, but it is still worth noting that Oracle has officially notified the US District Court in Northern California of its intent to appeal Judge William Alsup's ruling in Oracle v. Google. According to a thoughtful article today at FOSSpatents.com, Oracle may be prepared to take this case all the way to the US Supreme Court, if necessary. To win the appeal, Oracle will need to convince the higher courts to overturn Judge Alsup's ruling that Java API calls are not copyrightable. Not all judges are even likely to understand what API calls are or how they fit into the bigger picture, so it's anybody's guess how the appeal will proceed.

Former Sun Chairman, Scott McNealy, repeatedly preached to the Java world that we have open standard APIs and compete on implementations of them. I can understand why it bothers Larry Ellison and his crew in Redwood Shores that Android is achieving global popularity without paying tribute to Java's new owner. If, however, it was really Sun's position (prior to the aquisition by Oracle) that Google was misappropriating Java in Android, then why did Sun's CEO Jonathan Schwartz publicly praise and encourage Google's work and even testify in their defense in the Oracle v. Google trial?

Perhaps it's true that this legal battle will drag on all the way to the highest courts. Maybe keeping the litigation alive even has strategic value for Oracle regardless of whether it ever prevails. Who wants to risk using Java API calls if it means you may have to go head-to-head in a patent and copyright case with one of the world's richest companies?

In my opinion, however, there is little benefit to the public at large or to the Java community if somehow the Java steward establishes a legal precedent that a Java API call is a copyrightable work. This flies in the face of the spirit of Java's open APIs and competitive implementations that McNealy and company expounded when they originally introduced Java to the world.

What's your take on this issue? Should Java API calls be copyrightable? Will Oracle ultimately be able to overturn Judge Alsup's ruling? Is this good, bad or indifferent for Java? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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