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I want to make an open-source graph thing which looks and behaves very similarly to Google Visualization API, but it would be based on Flot. Is this legal, or must I not imitate Google Visualization API?

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closed as off-topic by GrandmasterB, Corbin March, Dan Pichelman, Thomas Owens Aug 21 '13 at 23:59

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Google would likely be the least likely company to argue that copying an API is illegal. – user40980 Aug 21 '13 at 21:26
Didn't google just battle over this very thing with Oracle? – whatsisname Aug 21 '13 at 21:40
The answer to this question is going to be super-locality specific. – jwrush Aug 21 '13 at 21:48
This question appears to be off-topic because it is about local legal issues, not software development. – GrandmasterB Aug 21 '13 at 22:06
I believe this is on-topic as it is clearly a factor that must be considered in API design. A good answer could easily outline the general legal issues without going into the specifics of every jurisdiction. – mikera Aug 22 '13 at 2:32
up vote 5 down vote accepted

GNU has a long history of making work alikes for libraries. When BSD was sued for copyright it was over implementation copying and not interface copying (reimplementing the Unix interface was considered a valid resolution). Then as whatsisname points out in the comments Oracle lost when they sued Google for API copyright. Work alikes have a long history of being legal. So it should be ok. Though as always I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

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According to this answer it should be legal. – raindrop Aug 21 '13 at 22:40

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