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21 February 2013

Oracle summons “Ann Droid” in appeal of Java verdict

Attempting to rescue itself from last year's thorough courtroom smackdown, Oracle has filed a 77-page appeal brief arguing that Java APIs are indeed copyrightable, contrary to a federal judge's ruling.

Google didn't copy the code from actual Java functions, but it did use what Oracle calls "declaring code" from declarations, headers, signatures, and names of functions. Oracle claimed this amounted to copying the "structure, sequence, and organization" of Java.

But Judge William Alsup, who oversaw the case, disagreed. The code Google used was "a utilitarian and functional set of symbols, each to carry out a pre-assigned function." Declarations and headers "must be identical" to carry out the function, and "duplication of the command structure is necessary for interoperability."

Now, Oracle's trying very hard to get that finding overturned. In 2009, the company paid more than $7 billion for Sun Microsystems, which gave it ownership of Java's patents and copyrights. The company's top brass very much believes that the intellectual property should entitle it to serious compensation from Google, and it initiated discussions with the search giant shortly after the purchase, ultimately filing suit in 2010. The company's initial damage demands went up to $6 billion, but that was whittled way down by the judge.

Oracle kicks off its legal arguments with the tale of a mythical writer, Ann Droid.


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