Google’s Supreme Court Petition

Last week Google petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States for permission to appeal the Federal Circuit decision to overturn their victory against Oracle. You may remember that Oracle sued for patent and copyright infringement over Google’s use of a small subset of the huge Java class API in Android. Oracle lost in front of a jury in the district court in San Francisco, but then won on appeal.

The case will be a significant landmark for the technology industry regardless of the outcome, but the real impact of any decisions reached will be felt first by Android. The petition itself then suggests that the wider impact of the case is narrower than others might have feared, as its effects only come into play with substantial systems of APIs. Still, in the event of an Oracle win, open-source-licensed APIs would suddenly become much more important and the work of creating developer ecosystems around proprietary APIs would become much more challenging.

The Google petition includes three detailed and thorough arguments for the overturning of the Federal Circuit decision. For a look into what those arguments are and more on the significance of the case, try Simon’s InfoWorld article.


With trolls on the back foot, defences against them thrive

Over the last year the Open Invention Network (OIN) has grown by almost 70%! The community protects open source software from patent aggression by pooling patents and having members commit not to litigate against the software of other members of the group. The last year has seen a lot of interest from Asian companies via the Asian Legal Network and also a massive boost in startup interest, bringing OIN past the 1000 member mark.

This massive growth might seem like an unusual trend, considering the apparent weakening grip of patent tolls due to the recent Alice v CLS Bank ruling by the Supreme Court. Whilst smaller patent trolls have been taking a hit, OIN remains a necessary defence against the threat of big trolls, corporations with giant patent portfolios whose legal firepower would be too much to stand up to alone. The growth of OIN is not only indicative of the need for defence, it’s also good news for existing members, as the larger the network becomes the more effectively it’s able to keep the trolls at bay.

Read Simon’s analysis of OIN’s remarkable growth in his InfoWorld article.