Today, the Supreme Court announced that it has refused to hear the Google v. Oracle case. The case involves the copyrightability of Oracle’s application programming interface (API), a part of the Java programming language and system. The case attracted widespread attention last May, when the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that Oracle could assert a copyright over its API, which consists of a specification of commands for operating the Java system. By this decision, the Supreme Court lets the Federal Circuit decision stand.

Public Knowledge filed an amicus brief in the case asking the Supreme Court to grant certiorari.

The following may be attributed to Charles Duan, Director of Public Knowledge’s Patent Reform Project:

“We are disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear this case. The law is clearly contrary to what the Federal Circuit decided, as we explained in our amicus brief.

“However, this is not the end of the road for this case — the Federal Circuit decision explicitly left open the possibility that the kinds of uses Google made were permissible under copyright’s fair use doctrine. Furthermore, the Federal Circuit’s decision is only one of several decisions on this question of copyrightability of programming interfaces. Many of these other decisions came to different results. Thus, the value of the Federal Circuit’s holding for future cases is sharply limited.

“We will continue watching for further developments in this case, which now returns to the District Court for consideration of the fair use issue.”