“API documentation” vs. “API implementation”

The judge points out that “[t]he term API is slippery”. He refuses to use the term “API” on its own for anything other than “the abstract concept of an application programming interface”. For the sake of greater precision, the judge consistently refers to “API documentation” and “API implementations” when discussing material that was allegedly infringed.


There are many occasions to lament the lack of technical understanding that shines through some legal discussions. But this is a case in which the judge displays a level of precision that we, in the industry, often fail to reach.


Filed under API, Legal

2 Responses to “API documentation” vs. “API implementation”

  1. SteveL

    I worry about signature vs semantics. [Parnas74] clearly defined an interface as the signature of the functions you have to call, and their behaviour. If the judge says the specification of the semantics are copyright, that’s going to change a lot of things. There’s also the issue of de-facto semantics, the undocumented details, which people learn through experience. I wonder what the rules there will turn out to be.

  2. Point of data: It pisses off the grey beards in the IETF to no end that people commonly call protocols APIs now.