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Google vs Oracle: Android does not infringe Java patents finds jury

Chris Mayer

Oracle’s charge hits the buffers, as the jury return with a favourable Google verdict on patents. But it seems that Oracle were nowhere near getting what they wanted

After another long slog debating, the jury in the Oracle vs. Google case returned yesterday to give a patent verdict – finding that Google had not infringed any Java patents in building Android or the Dalvik Virtual Machine.

The decision pretty much means Oracle’s fairly vain and arduous pursuit against Google for using Java patents within Android has come to a shuddering halt, with only a miniscule amount of damages set to be awarded to them – a huge markdown on the $6bn they were seeking from the outset.

The jury have now been dismissed by Judge Alsup, after Oracle went for broke on the patents phase, with both parties agreeing to waive a jury trial on damages. The six-week trial was the longest Judge Alsup had overseen in his career and he thanked the jury for their work.

We’re still awaiting to hear from Alsup on the copyrightability of the 37 Java APIs, which will determine the course of the trial from here on in. The jury found previous copyright infringement in Phase One of the mammoth trial. Currently, without that ruling, Oracle have the sole nine lines of code found to be infringing, getting statutory damages on each at $15,000 a pop. With a favourable ruling from Alsup, Oracle could get a new jury and new trial for dealing with copyright damages. But after today’s verdict, you’d think the chances of that are slim to none.

The clerk read out the following in court, according to Groklaw:

Question 1: has Oracle proved by preponderance of evidence that Google infringed?

Claim 11: not proven
27: no
29: no
39: no
40: no
41: no

Question 2: not proven

1: no
20: no

Question 3: no answer, no response, not applicable.

Unanimous then. We also learned in the aftermath from Ars Technica reporter Joe Mullin that only one juror favoured Oracle in the patent phase, whilst in the copyright phase, we found out that the jury was 9 to 3 in favour of Google. Jury foreman Greg Thompson revealed all in a 20-minute chat to reporters, also divulging that he was the lone standout for Oracle during both phases.

“A lot of the jurors were focused on functionality versus creativity,” said Thompson, with a majority “putting greater weight on functionality.”

This pretty much suggests that Oracle have lost big time, and were never even remotely close to winning anything.

Google were hasty in releasing a succinct statement, immediately after the verdict was read out, which read:

Today’s jury verdict that Android does not infringe Oracle’s patents was a victory not just for Google but the entire Android ecosystem.

Indeed it does.

Oracle’s statement was defiant, if not steadfast, however:

Oracle presented overwhelming evidence at trial that Google knew it would fragment and damage Java.

We plan to continue to defend and uphold Java’s core write once run anywhere principle and ensure it is protected for the nine million Java developers and the community that depend on Java compatibility.

Is this the end then? Not really, with the statement above, you’d expect Oracle to appeal, throwing yet more money into the sinkhole. We still have the monumental API decision to be made as well, which could prolong matters for all parties. But in summary, it’s a good day for Google and hopefully a big day for Java developers, with Oracle’s fight all but over now.

James Gosling offered his views on the case as a whole, writing:

The patent part of the case is finally over, with Google acquitted on (almost) all counts.. The happy part for me is that despite having been on the witness list and gone through a bunch of prep work with lawyers, I didn’t actually have to testify. Despite all the furor that went into this one, it went out with a wimper. Court cases are never about right and wrong, they’re about the law and what you can convince a jury of. For those of us at Sun who felt trampled-on and abused by Google’s callous self-righteousness, I would have preferred a different outcome – not from the court case as much as from events of years past.

Let’s leave the final words to Linus Torvalds, who was typically bullish and bang on with his views, posting this on Google+ not long after the verdict was made:

Prediction: instead of Oracle coming out and admitting they were morons about their idiotic suit against Android, they’ll come out posturing and talk about how they’ll be vindicated, and pay lawyers to take it to the next level of idiocy.

Sometimes I really wish I wasn’t always right. It’s a curse, I tell you.

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