Oracle and Google Dispute Has Implications for Copyright Law
On March 27, 2018, the United States Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit handed down a decision in a suit between Oracle and Google. The three judge panel overruled a jury verdict from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California which found that Google had a fair use defense to their unauthorized use of Oracle’s Java application programming interface packages (API packages). The Federal Circuit was able to investigate and overturn the finding of fair use by the jury, because the determination of fair use is a legal determination based on the four statutory factors: 1) the purpose and character of the use, 2) the nature of the copyrighted work, 3) the amount of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, and 4) the effect of the use on the market value of the copyrighted work.
Oracle’s victory at the Federal Circuit paves the way for another trial to determine the amount of damages Google owes them for the infringement. Beyond the parties involved, this case also has industry-wide implications. This series of cases reaffirm the copyrightability of even the most functional elements of software. This case specifically has the effect of raising the bar for a finding of “transformative” use in software. In combination, these decisions may have the effect of providing patent-like protections for works protected for copyright-length terms.
Monsanto Loses Fight Over Genetically Modified Seeds in India
On April 11, 2018, an Indian court ruled that Monsanto cannot enforce its patents on genetically modified cotton seeds in the country. According to the India Patent Act of 1970, seeds are not patentable inventions. This decision could have an impact on India’s GM market generally as well as Monsanto’s Indian business in particular. Currently, more than 90% of India’s cotton crop is genetically modified.
NTSB to Investigate Deadly Crash Without Tesla
On April 12, 2018, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced that it had removed Tesla from the investigation of a fatal accident involving one of its self-driving cars. A Tesla Model X operating in autopilot mode crashed into a freeway divider on March 23, 2018 killing the car’s only occupant. The crash is under investigation by the NTSB. The NTSB removed Tesla from the investigation for violating agency protocols about what information can be made public during an ongoing investigation. Tesla has released information about the crash that appears to blame the driver, not the autopilot, for the accident. The investigation comes amidst growing concern about the safety of self-driving technology.