Ding ding

Oracle vs Google – Trial enters Round Two for patents, Google file for mistrial

Chris Mayer

With tussles over the copyright verdict still occurring, the trial enters into stage two – looking at patents.

As the embers of the copyright phase of this trial between Oracle and Google still linger around, we move into the second round, focusing squarely on whether Google infringed Oracle’s Java patents when building Android.

The arguments over the partial verdict will no doubt continue for some time yet, with the ‘fair use’ defence still very much in the air. Florian Mueller was quick to report Google’s formal motion for a new trial, in the light of being found to have breached copyright infringment on those 37 APIs.

Their stance is pretty clear:

Google therefore requests that the Court declare a mistrial, and order a new trial, as to both infringement and fair use as to Oracle’s claim that Google is liable for infringement of its copyright on the structure, sequence, and organization of the 37 API packages.

Oracle however are willing press to forward and let Judge Alsup make a fair use ruling. Fortunately for the jury, the patent stage won’t be dealing at all with fair use, possibly generating a collective sigh of relief. Theoretically, this should make their decision easier in deciding whether Java patents were violated when Google were building the Android platform, but we shall see.

As for the action from the Californian courtroom, Oracle and Google both provided their opening statements, directly after a short educational video outlining what a patent actually is and what stock it holds. You’ll no doubt remember that Oracle’s initial lawsuit detailed 7 patents that they thought were infringed by Google. Over the course of a year or so, this eventually resulted in two patents being brought to court – 6,061,520 and RE38,104, both playing a key part in the JVM.

Oracle’s mission is simple – prove Google was aware, or ‘willfully blind’, when using the Java patents with the Dalvik virtual machine. They were up first, recalling some old faces in the form of Google engineer Tim Lindholm and Android chief Andy Rubin to the stand.

Their line of questioning took a new turn, no doubt in part due to the banning of the email between Lindholm and Rubin, which Judge Alsup claimed Oracle had “beaten that to death.” Instead, Oracle’s lawyers attempted to ascertain what Lindholm’s role was in creating the Java Virtual Machine, by showing evidence detailing 17 patents of his and brought up other email threads. 

Lindholm asserted in cross-examination that he hasn’t been a part of any design work on Android, including the Dalvik virtual machine and that he hadn’t written much Java code since 2005. So barely any new light shed there, but he could well return yet again.

In a familiar appearance to his first, Rubin appeared tense at the stand, dodging questions wherever possible. This time, Oracle questioned Rubin over his patent knowledge and the clean room implementation, Rubin responded mostly with negative answers. In truth, this day’s proceedings were a damp squib for juicy information as Oracle sped through a packed roster of witnesses. This is probably seen as a good thing, as we might reach a verdict much sooner than in the first part.

Rubin is expected to return to the stand, later today (Wednesday) to face further questioning.

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