This afternoon the Supreme Court granted the petition for certiorari in Google LLC v. Oracle America, Inc., a copyright case most recently decided by the Federal Circuit in 2018. The grant comes on the heels of the case being listed for consideration at four of the Court’s conferences, including the last three in a row.
The court granted review of both questions Google presented in its petition:
- “Whether copyright protection extends to a software interface.”
- “Whether, as the jury found, petitioner’s use of a software interface in the context of creating a new computer program constitutes fair use.”
Notably, the government had suggested to the Court that neither question warranted review because the Federal Circuit answered both questions correctly. But numerous other amicus briefs argued in favor of review, harshly criticizing the Federal Circuit’s analysis and the ultimate outcome of the case.
Most recently, the Federal Circuit, in a unananimous panel opinion authored by Judge O’Malley and joined by Judges Plager and Taranto, “conclude[d] that Google’s use of . . . 37 Java API packages was not fair as a matter of law” and “therefore reverse[d] the district court’s decisions denying Oracle’s motions for JMOL and remand[ed] for a trial on damages” for copyright infringement.
The Supreme Court will hear oral argument in this case sometime in the spring. We will continue to monitor the case and report on developments.