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Cavalry Rides into Oracle’s Java Suit

On Tuesday the Federal Circuit of Appeals was flooded with paper backing Oracle’s position on the copyrightability of APIs

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has evidently called in a few markers and persuaded some of his friends to stand up with him in his legal battle over Java against Google and its Android operating system.

On Tuesday, the last day to file amicus briefs supporting Oracle's appeal of the district court decision flaying Oracle's infringement case, the Federal Circuit of Appeals was flooded with paper (figuratively speaking) backing Oracle's position on the copyrightability of APIs and Android's infringement of Java.

District Court Judge Alsup found that "So long as the specific code used to implement a method is different, anyone is free under the Copyright Act to write his or her own code to carry out exactly the same function or specification of any methods used in the Java API."

The naysayers claim the decision got the law wrong and contend that, if upheld, the "ruling would upset settled expectations and harm incentives for innovation in the software industry."

The filings came from Ellison's good friend Scott McNealy, the former CEO of Sun Microsystems, the little company that created Java that Ellison bought; Microsoft, never a particular friend of Oracle, but it threw in a former Solicitor General to argue its position - ah, well, it is suing Google subsidiary Motorola Mobility; EMC; NetApp; and the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which represents a slew of companies like Adobe, Apple, CA, IBM, Intel, Quest, Progress, Symantec and of course Oracle.

FOSS Patents remarks that what BSA's membership has invested in software development "dwarfs whatever Google and Android hardware partners spend on software-related R&D."

Oracle has also got the Picture Archive Council of America, the Graphic Artists Guild and the former head of the US Copyright Office Ralph Oman in its corner. Oman is a really big deal in IP circles and definitely wants the decision reversed lest copyright be weakened.

To leaven the lineup Oracle threw in three important professors.

Google's supposed to reply by March 28.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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