Platforms and Interoperability in Oracle v. Google
12 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2018
Date Written: March 27, 2018
Software companies, and startups in particular, rely on interoperability to build new and innovative products. Without it, developers would be at the mercy of proprietary platforms written in specific, rapidly obsolete computer languages and without the ability to create new and innovative products that are broadly accessible to consumers. The result of such a balkanized regime would be significantly less creativity — the very opposite of what copyright law is designed to achieve. The freedom to interoperate is particularly important in software copyright because copyright in software is more likely than other copyrights to confer control over a market.
The Ninth Circuit, like others, has emphasized the importance of interoperability in computer software copyright cases. It has repeatedly held that parties are free to copy the elements of a computer interface necessary to write new and different programs that work with the plaintiff’s existing program. The Federal Circuit will nominally apply Ninth Circuit law in Oracle v. Google. How it does so will affect the future of software innovation not just on the Android platform but in “walled gardens” throughout the Internet.
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