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The Future of APIs

Software Development Times
06/28/2012

One of the issues in the Oracle v. Google case was whether Google had infringed on Oracle’s copyrights. The case was a win for Google because the court ruled that the structure, sequence and organization of the 37 Java APIs are not copyrightable. Google also prevailed on numerous patent infringement claims. The larger unresolved issue is whether APIs are or should be copyrightable, which will likely become the subject of a growing debate as the Oracle v. Google case goes up for appeal.

Because APIs are so critical in today’s ultra-connected world, it will be interesting to see who and how many in the computer industry get involved in the debate and who will lobby the court with amicus briefs.

Matthias Kamber, a partner at Keker and Van Nest, LLP was on the team that secured the Google win. While he declined to discuss the case, he acknowledged that the copyrightability of APIs generally is a controversial issue. When asked what the outcome might have been had the judge found APIs to be copyrightable he said, “It would have opened the floodgates to litigation and restrictive practices around something that has been open. It would also have a chilling effect on startups, what they develop, and the appetite they have for developing software that relies on or uses APIs.”

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Matthias Kamber specializes in intellectual property litigation, particularly patent cases. With a background in mechanical engineering, Mr. Kamber has handled cases involving smartphone software and hardware, Internet telephony, wireless networking, microprocessor design, and medical devices throughout the country and before the U.S. International Trade Commission. In addition to patent matters, Mr. Kamber has represented companies and individuals in trade secret, trademark, and copyright matters, as well as IP-related breach of contract actions. And he has also been involved in large-scale antitrust litigation.

Regardless of the type of case or technology, Mr. Kamber focuses on strategies attuned to his clients’ business interests. To that end, he has been successful in securing favorable early-stage dispositions, negotiating resolutions, and taking cases to trial.