Oracle faced a stronger than expected challenge convincing the jury in the Android case that Google had willfully infringed Java patents, post-trial comments have revealed, with most leaning heavily toward the search company throughout the case. Despite earlier speculation that the 12-strong jury was looking negatively on Google’s arguments, jury foreman Greg Thompson told Ars Technica that in fact it was a 9-3 split in Google’s favor on copyright issues. There are also suggestions that Oracle’s stance left some on the jury feeling the company’s strategies weren’t in the public’s best interest.
“The more tech savvy a person is,” Thompson said, “the more difficult it might be to convince them of something that would limit [technology] … and future expansion of the common good.”
That was a possibility that had already worried many outside of the case. “Treating APIs as copyrightable would have a profound negative impact on interoperability, and, therefore, innovation” Julie Samuels, staff attorney at the Electronics Frontier Foundation said earlier this month, with suggestions that a precedent jury decision might hamstring future developments.
Judge Alsup had already instructed the jury to consider the Java APIs copyrighted, which Thompson said left the focus on whether Google’s applications counted as fair use or not. “A lot of the jurors were focused on functionality versus creativity,” he said, with the majority of jurors “putting greater weight on functionality.”
Interestingly, Thompson himself was eventually the lone voice speaking for Oracle, though eventually he decided the company had failed to meet its burden of proof. Although Judge Alsup had demonstrated some technical understanding, such as scolding Oracle’s legal team for overstating the potential time-to-market advantages Google might have by copying certain elements of code rather than creating them from scratch, the judge’s answers to the jury’s questions were eventually “of limited helpfulness” and “could be interpreted in different ways.”
Oracle now faces the decision of whether to appeal the jury’s decision, with the trial ceased prior to the originally scheduled third stage during which time any relevant damages payable by Google would have been settled.