Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Oracle Advances Software Copyrights, Drops Patent Claims Against Google

I frequently blog about the benefits of software copyrights over software patents. I've also mentioned how Oracle is leading the charge in terms of promoting its software copyrights more than its software patents. Nowhere is it more apparent that software patents are the new thing, and software patents are out, than in the Oracle v. Google case.
Oracle sued Google for allegedly violating a bunch of Oracle's software patents and also Oracle's copyrights related to the JAVA technology. Originally, it was thought the case was mostly a patent case with some copyright underpinnings. Now, it appears to be quite the opposite.
In a surprise move, Oracle seems to have whole-heartedly bought into the theory that I have been promoting for some time--that software patents are yesterday's news and software copyrights are the way forward. Oracle filed documents asking the Court to throw out Oracle's own patent infringement claims so it could move forward with the copyright case alone. It seems Oracle has recognized that the last several years of judicial activism and proposed legislative overhauls have left software patents as essentially useless anachronisms. As proof, many (most?) of the software patents that Oracle asserted against Google have already been thrown out by the U.S.P.T.O. on reexaminations initiated by Google. In other words, Oracle's patent case is disintegrating and its copyright case is gaining steam.
So why waste the money on the patent case? Why shackle your thoroughbred to a plow horse? Looks like Oracle agrees. It wants to move forward with its strong case and dismiss its patent case. This is one more example illustrating the shifting paradigm away from patents and toward copyrights as the mechanism of choice for protecting software. Will it happen overnight? Of course not. But when highly litigious (and successfully so) multi-national companies completely drop their patent cases so they can focus on their software copyright case, you have to take notice. Is this the right strategy for your business? Maybe, maybe not. But you must at least consider this as an option.