Google vs Oracle: Jury torn but case plows on

Chris Davies - May 8, 2012, 6:03am CDT
Google vs Oracle: Jury torn but case plows on

Google and Oracle may be unable to decide who is the victor after the latest jury decision in the Android Java trial, but even with no clear decision on fair use the case moves on now to whether Oracle’s Sun patents have been infringed. Presiding Judge Alsup accepted no delay in the momentum of the suit, shifting attention to the second phase of what is expected to be a three step process: first copyright infringement, then patents, and finally a decision on what damages – if any – are appropriate. Google, meanwhile, is demanding a mistrial based on the jury’s inability to decide one way or the other.

That could yet prove a contentious point. Judge Alsup made clear that, despite the jury’s initial ruling that Android overstepped the mark on Java copyrights, that decision is groundless if a decision around fair-use doesn’t go Oracle’s way. If adopting Java technology is deemed to be within the realm of fair-use, there will be “zero finding of copyright liability” the judge told legal teams from both firms.

Exactly when that decision will be made is unclear, but it looks likely that Alsup will rule on fair-use during the third stage of the trial process. Before that, there’s the matter of two Oracle patents Google is accused of infringing, though any damages that could arise from a guilty decision would likely be considerably less hefty than Oracle was initially hoping for.

In its favor, though, is the fact that use of patents cannot be considered fair-use. The jury decided Google had used a handful of Java code in among its own work on Android, but as Google pointed out it was only from the elements of Java that Oracle was already allowing companies to use freely. That didn’t wash with Oracle’s lawyers, however. “Google knew it needed a license” it said in a statement yesterday, “[and] its unauthorized fork of Java in Android shattered Java’s central write once run anywhere principle.”

If the first stage of the trial has gone generally in Google’s favor, the second may not be so kind to the search giant. Oracle’s patent portfolio is huge, and while the initial phase concentrates on just a few of these, there’s still plenty of room for the two firms to get bogged down in red tape.

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6 Responses to Google vs Oracle: Jury torn but case plows on

  1. another subject on which people without a clue were called in to decide.  APIs  – application programming interfaces are implemented to allow modular design of about anything.  They can be internal – to an operating system, e.g. between screen controller and internal memory, or external allowing independent applications like all the ones you can get at the apple or google app. stores.  there are hundreds of APIs in any operating system and/or device.  Trademarking APIs is sheer nonsense.  Just consider somebody trademarks the general shape of a staircase or window.

  2. Total victory for Google. Judge scorns Oracle ‘disgorge’ profits argument; will settle the APIs are not language pipe dream as well.

    As for the copied code, $1B * 9/15M = $600, the price of a trip from SFO to Baltimore on Southwest. If the Google lawyer wanted to, he could say that finding the range of an array is taught in any first course in programming, but that would be obvious. Besides, sending a lawyer to Baltimore, steerage class is more appropriate.

  3. Most software patents are not worth anything. A good team could find prior art for almost all of them, and if not most are obvious. Microsoft, Sun, Oracle, and Google alll have software patents where I was personally had prior art, sometimes years before they utilized the technology. 

  4. Copyrighting a language or  API isn’t  good public policy. Copyright is too broad and ill defined to make this sort of claim am meaningful guide. How can someone know whether or not they are infringing? Patent is better, at least it is more specific, but still not a good idea for languages.

    For example, what if the Society of Plastic Surgeons copyrighted a nose design tool. Everyone who “infringed” on their nose designs would have to pay a royalty every time they breathed. Or what if a big pharma microbiologist  copyright a human genome. Anyone who infringed would have to pay a royalty. 

    The fallacy in all this is that it will bring the economy and  innovation to a halt. It is the fallacy of the rentier economy. If everyone is paying economic rents to rights holders then no one has money to buy products, new or otherwise. This royalty for everything is killing the goose that lays the golden egg and goes far beyond the original intent of providing the incentive necessary to continue invention. 

  5. Hello Everyone. I don”t know what would be the results but i really
    enjoyed this article. Because we need both Google and oracle, so why
    should we differentiate each other. Both have their unique importance.

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