Supreme Court Asked to Decide Copyright Protection for Software Program Interfaces*

February 4, 2019

By: Toby M.J. Butterfield and Liberty T. McAteer

On January 28, 2019, Google asked the Supreme Court to hear Google’s closely watched appeal of the potentially multibillion verdict against it for infringement of Oracle’s copyright in certain Java library APIs (Application Program Interfaces) by Google’s recreation of the format and functionality of those APIs in its Android platform to allow programmers familiar with Java to write Android software. The appeal will raise several legal issues, including whether APIs merit copyright protection, when, arguably, they are primarily functional; if so, whether Google’s use of the APIs was fair use; and whether the fair use issue was properly decided by the jury during the trial below, or should have been determined by a judge as a matter of law.

Moses & Singer’s Internet and Technology, and Litigation practices routinely advise on such issues.  Future alerts will keep you apprised of developments in this case and others of interest to the software, social media and technology sectors.


*  An earlier version of this Alert incorrectly stated that the Supreme Court has already agreed to hear Google’s appeal.  As of February 3, 2019, the Supreme Court has not acted on Google’s request.