“Whether it is consumers’ data or competitors’ code, Google’s view seems to be the same: What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine,” argues Oracle executive vice president Kenneth Glueck.
Google had urged America’s Supreme Court to rule in their ongoing legal case about access to Java’s APIs, a case which Google says hinges on “whether developers should be able to create new applications using standard ways of accessing common functions. Those functions are the building blocks of computer programming, letting developers easily assemble the range of applications and tools we all use every day. Making it harder to connect with those functions would lock developers into existing platforms, thus reducing competition and, ultimately, hurting consumers. Access to software interfaces like these is the key to interoperability, the foundation of great software development.”
That editorial — written by Google’s senior vice president for global affairs, Kent Walker, notes that 175 startups, developers, academics and other tech companies (including Microsoft) are also asking the Supreme Court to hear this case. Google warns of a risk to innovation posed if companies like Oracle become “gatekeepers to interoperability,” calling it “a defining battle of the digital era.”
Oracle’s executive responds that “There are many ‘defining battles’ of the digital era — 5G, Artificial Intelligence, autonomous devices — but Oracle v. Google is surely not among them.” Only in Google’s world does weaker intellectual property protection lead to more innovation. It is settled in law and in economics that the opposite is true. And at a time when the U.S. is circling the globe to enhance the protection of U.S. intellectual property — including strong copyright protection — Google takes the opposite view…
In a stunning what’s-up-is-down and down-is-up statement, Walker attempts to wrap Google in the cloak of interoperability. Java defined the era of interoperability with its “write once, run everywhere” architecture. It was Google that copied Java, built Android around it, and altered it so it was only interoperable with itself (i.e., write once, run only on Google). Android killed Java interoperability, and now Google argues that killing interoperability is good for interoperability?
Those facts are not in dispute. The only issue in dispute is Google’s assertion that its actions were all “fair.” On this point, the federal circuit court clearly analyzed and methodically decided against Google’s fair-use defense. This makes sense because, under no interpretation of fair use, may you copy a competitor’s software code and turn around and compete against that competitor in the marketplace. Hard stop… There is no matter of law in question, nor is there a conflict among circuit courts. Google was caught killing interoperability and is now trying to concoct a new “we are too important” legal defense.
Reuters reports that this week the Supreme Court asked the White House “to offer its views on whether it should hear Google’s bid to end Oracle’s copyright infringement lawsuit.”