Finally...

Google Oracle Android trial date finally set for April 16th 2012

Well, it finally appears that we're heading to the court room. Yesterday, Judge Alsup set a definitive court date for the long-awaited Android infringement case as April 16th, accepting Oracle's offer of withdrawing three patents in return for a spring court date.

Originally set to meet on October 31st 2011, the jostling between Oracle and Google over damage reports and the validity of claims will cease as they meet next month, for approximately eight weeks as the order says. The first day of course will be jury selection and opening statements.

Following on from Friday's response, it looks like Judge Alsup, probably like the rest of us, was growing weary of the tit-for-tat nature of the arguments and appears to side with Oracle's streamlining approach in his final sentence of the order saying:

Google is hereby encouraged to withdraw its invalidity defenses that have failed in the reexamination process as a way to further streamline the trial on the two patents remaining in suit.

This is in reference to the coveted '520 patent that was the only patent to survive reexamination, which Google were adamant was invalid.

Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents indicated how the trial may pan out, with copyright taking precedence over the patent infringement side of things. He said:

If Oracle's patent case is limited to the '520 patent (where it's going to be difficult to convince the jury of actual infringement) and the RE'104 "Gosling patent", then I think we're talking about a copyright case much more so than a patent case.

The copyright part raises important questions concerning the protection of intellectual property in material related to application programming interfaces. The outcome could have important effects way beyond this particular litigation.

Also appearing from the San Fransisco court was another order, revealing that much of Oracle's third damages report had been thrown out - but not all. As provided in PDF format on Groklaw, a lot of Google's contested problems with Dr Cockburn's report were well-founded as several methods were stricken from the record. These include the independent-significance approach to valuation, the econometric analysis, the conjoint analysis as used to determine market share and the "upper bound" calculation in the group-and-value approach. Either way, this could be fairly irrelevant as a court-appointed expert will offer his valuation in the trial and this will hold more power than each party's own opinion.

So, Oracle will go to trial with two patents in tow, and you'd assume these patents hold substantial worth. After the original lawsuit was filed back in 2010, we might well be heading into the final stretch two years on. Don't count on it though.

Chris Mayer

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