Copyright case almost closed

Google vs Oracle – Oracle’s intellectual case faltering as verdict nears

Chris Mayer

Both sides have now rested their cases after a feisty round of rebuttals. Now it’s down to the jury. James Gosling also reiterated his views on the case

The rebuttals began on Friday in the tenth day of the Android intellectual property trial, with Oracle inferring that Google had been lazy in using Java patents in building the Android platform, using the 37 Java APIs to create the greatest return possible.

No one at Google could really deny that they were trying to make a huge profit with Android and in our opinion this smacks of desperation as Oracle’s case falters into the second week, still reeling from Jonathan Schwartz’s testimony a day earlier. Their only saving grace was the calling of Scott McNealy who contradicted everything that his former Sun colleague said.

Oracle also recalled Mark Reinhold, chief architect for Java during the rebuttal phase, mainly to clear up his use of the phrase ‘blueprint’ when describing the Java APIs in question, which others contested. Reinhold stuck to his guns replying:

They are blueprints.  The whole point is that different people can develop competing implementations.

If you have a good API, once you’ve got that, to do an implementation from scratch is a relatively easier job.  You start by copying the API, and then you implement it.

Google refuted that writing an API specification doesn’t tell you how to write the code, which Reinhold conceded.

When asked if implementing an existing an API is less or more work than designing the API, Reinhold answered ‘Less. There’s room for creativity, but only within the API.’ – again Oracle forcing home the point of Google’s laziness in creating Android.

Another interesting appearance on Friday was Duke University computer science professor Owen Astrachan, who believed Google was completely within their rights with their cleanroom implementation of the Dalvik virtual machine, saying

The implementation code in Android is completely different than the implementation code in Java.

Given his expertise, who’d be one to doubt him? This contrasts with John Mitchell, a witness Oracle called previously who reappeared during the rebuttals, to again say Google must have copied at least some code from the Java platform.

Oracle’s President and Chief Financial Officer, Safra Katz, was also called to the stand to answer questions over Oracle’s awareness of the Apache Harmony project. Katz said she did know of it, but Oracle had never supplied any financial or technical resources, nor considered using it because they had a license from Sun.

Both Google and Oracle have rested their cases. Closing statements are expected today (Monday) from both parties, before the jury can consider a verdict on the copyright portion of the trial, which could take a day or two or perhaps even a week. After the jury have ruled, the patents part of the trial begins. Should Google be found guilty, then there would a damages section following on, where both parties would discuss how much money Oracle would get for the infringement.

Both sides need to take a breather after two weeks of relentless questioning. Judge Alsup issued a warning:

When the case goes to them, the case is in their hands — including when they make the decision.

Aside from the courtroom action, Java co-creator James Gosling has weighed in on the case, reiterating something he had said early to journalist, affirming that Sun were indeed hurt by Google’s actions. He wrote:

In Dan Farber’s recent article on CNET titled “Oracle v. Google: Ex-Sun execs on opposite sides” he got my position on the case totally backwards and totally misinterpreted my comments. Just because Sun didn’t have patent suits in our genetic code doesn’t mean we didn’t feel wronged. While I have differences with Oracle, in this case they are in the right. Google totally slimed Sun. We were all really disturbed, even Jonathan: he just decided to put on a happy face and tried to turn lemons into lemonade, which annoyed a lot of folks at Sun.

So Gosling is siding with Oracle on this one, even though he remains a fairly netural head. His opinion on Jonathan Schwartz’s views is particularly enlightening. 

Expect some news from Monday proceedings tomorrow.

Picture courtesy of s_falkow on Flickr.

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