Google submits motion over API copyright

Midnight filing may blow Oracle v. Google trial wide open

A Rule 50 motion filed late last night by lawyers working for Google may significantly shift the course of the Oracle v. Google intellectual property trial that has been occupying tech journalists for the past eight days. Google, defending itself against accusations relating to its Android mobile operating system, is said to have put forward a radical new interpretation of Oracle’s rights to the Java APIs at the centre of the case, asserting that the Santa Clara-based firm is only entitled to copyright in the APIs as a collective work and not in each individual component.

“Google says that Oracle wrote in a filing that its works should not be treated as a compilation”, writes Pamela Jones at Groklaw. “But the copyright registrations filed, Google says, ‘don't support that.’ So, Google says, it must be a collective work.” As Jones notes, this could well be a “game changer” in a trial that has so far proceeded at a fairly pedestrian pace.

Well-known patent blogger Florian Müller agrees that the filing is a significant development in the case, but is hesitant about its immediate impact: “I doubt, at least for now, that Judge Alsup is going to throw out large parts of the copyright issues instead of putting them before the jury.” Yet another subtly pro-Oracle opinion will do little for his battered reputation as an independent analyst, which was severely damaged last week by his decision to accept the company as a client.

The other significant development from Day Eight of the much-awaited trial was the dismissal by District Judge William Alsup of a request by Oracle to introduce a new patent into the proceedings. The patent in question, numbered 5,966,702, was recently declared valid by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), despite it having previously been rejected. But Alsup decided late yesterday to hold Oracle to a previous agreement to drop all rejected patents in exchange for an early trial date.

“Oracle promised that if they could get a spring trial -- Google wanted one later, after the USPTO was all finished with the reexaminations -- they'd forego their claims on those patents irrevocably, and they got their spring trial”, explains Jones. The written dismissal by Alsup is clear: “Oracle will be required to stand by its word and live with the dismissal with prejudice."

Check out Groklaw’s entry for a really detailed account of Day Eight, and stay tuned to JAXenter for a summary of key points from Day Nine.

(via Groklaw, FOSS Patents and The H)

Louis Goddard

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