To the financial press, it looks like an ordinary copyright case. The technology press considers it a direct attack on both innovation and the work of making software work together. The Electronic Frontier Foundation called the decision dangerous.
A court in California, where both companies are based, had ruled for Google that Application Program Interfaces (APIs), which list what programs do and enable connections between programs, cannot be copyrighted.
APIs are considered essential to making programs compatible, Judge William Alsup had ruled in 2012, and thus should not be subject to copyright. But the three-judge panel at the Court of Appeals either didn't understand that or didn't care, according to the tech press.
The repercussions could be immense. Open-source programs such as Samba, which has provided interoperability between Apple (AAPL) Macintoshes and Microsoft (MSFT) Windows machines for over two decades, could become illegal.
Java had been made open source in the last decade by Sun Microsystems to encourage people to write programs once and run them anywhere. That effort succeeded, but after Oracle bought Sun it used the copyright claims to retroactively make everything proprietary again.
To lawyers who work in technology, the case should never have gone to trial. The case of Baker vs. Selden, decided by the Supreme Court in 1880, should have protected Google's use of the copy-written code, he wrote this weekend.