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Jury deals blow to Oracle v Google case: no infringement


Despite an earlier copyright finding, jury decides patent not infringed.

Rolling in it ... Oracle chief Larry Ellison.

Rolling in it ... Oracle chief Larry Ellison. Photo: AP

Google's Android mobile platform has not infringed Oracle's patents, a California jury decided, putting an indefinite hold on Oracle's quest for damages in a legal fight between the two Silicon Valley giants over smartphone technology.

The verdict was delivered on Wednesday in a San Francisco federal court. The same jury could not unanimously agree on the copyright allegations earlier in the case, though the jury foreman told reporters on Wednesday that the final vote on a key copyright issue heavily favoured Google.

Oracle sued Google in August 2010, saying Android - the world's most used mobile software - infringed on its intellectual property rights to the Java programming language. Google says it does not violate Oracle's patents and that Oracle cannot copyright certain parts of Java, an open-source or publicly available software language.

Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger on Wednesday said the company would continue to defend and uphold Java's unique functionality.

Attorneys for Oracle looked grim after the verdict. Google lawyers smiled and shook hands, and Google attorney Robert Van Nest said they were grateful for the jury's verdict.

The jury found earlier that Oracle had proven copyright infringement for parts of Java. But the jury could not unanimously agree on whether Google could fairly use that material.

Without a finding against Google on the fair use question, Oracle cannot recover damages on the bulk of its copyright claims. US District Judge William Alsup has not yet decided on several legal issues that could determine how a potential retrial on copyright would unfold, if at all.

Jury foreman Greg Thompson said that at times he was the only holdout for Oracle on that fair use copyright question. When the jury finally declared itself deadlocked, the final vote count was 9-3 in favor of Google, Thompson said.

According to Thompson, a retirement plan specialist, one of the other jurors used a food analogy to describe Oracle's evidence.

"He said he was waiting for the steak, and all he got was the parsley," Thompson said.

All the other jurors filed past reporters outside the courtroom and declined to comment.

While Oracle is seeking about $US1 billion in copyright damages, the patent damages in play were much lower. Before trial, Google offered to pay Oracle roughly $US2.8 million in damages on the two patents remaining in the case, covering the period through 2011, according to a filing made jointly by the companies.

For future damages, Google proposed paying Oracle 0.5 per cent of Android revenue on one patent until it expires this December and 0.015 percent on a second patent until it expires in April 2018. Oracle rejected the settlement offer.

During trial, Judge Alsup revealed that Android generated roughly $US97.7 million in revenue during the first quarter of 2010.

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5 comments so far

  • It's not accurate to say, "The jury found earlier that Oracle had proven copyright infringement for parts of Java". The judge instructed the jury to assume that Java APIs are covered by copyright, and if they are, to determine if Google has infringed. The judge however is aware that APIs have never successfully proven in court to be copyrightable and across the pond the European Court of Justice ruled last week that they weren't. After so many years, the only thing Oracle has proven is that Google copied nine lines of code. Bravo, Oracle, bravo.

    Date and time
    May 24, 2012, 10:24AM
    • It was a very sad day when Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems.

      Sun had a long track record of benevolent innovation for the betterment of all. Google "sun microsystems contribution", and you will find a staggering list of "gifts to the world" from Sun, including now ubiquitous networking protocols, programming languages and more support for open source projects than any other organisation.

      Oracle: none of the above.
      Don't get me wrong - Oracle make some good products, which deserve the premium they command, and there's nothing wrong with a company just getting on with making quality product.

      My problem is their pattern of acquiring the rights to free-for-use products, and either trying to turn a profit from them, or shut them down altogether, where the product was seen to be a competitor. In my book, that's dirty pool.

      Shame on you Oracle.
      You have lost my respect, and I hope your company image takes a hammering, as the public wake up to your unconscionable business strategies.

      Date and time
      May 24, 2012, 11:53AM
      • couldn't agree more - what oracle immediately did with Solaris was fair warning to all.
        I still regard much of the woes relating to cross litigation, the wants and needs of companies to troll for patents as the former apple CEO's lasting legacy.

        Date and time
        May 25, 2012, 11:20AM
    • I'm a big fan of Java. Oracle seem to be doing everything in their power to screw it up.

      Jacorb Effect
      Date and time
      May 24, 2012, 1:11PM
      • Looks like everyone wants a piece of Android!

        Date and time
        May 24, 2012, 1:30PM

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