Jury Finds No Patent Infringement in Google v. Oracle Lawsuit
Earlier this week, a federal jury in California decided that Google had not infringed on Oracle’s patents when it developed the Android platform. This decision follows just weeks after the jury could not agree whether Google had infringed Oracle’s copyrights in developing its own software. The lawsuit implicated two patents (RE38,104 and 6,061,520), contained over eight different claims, and was argued over the course of five and a half weeks.
Oracle’s claims of patent infringement relied upon their recent acquisition of Sun Microsystems’ Java patents in 2010. Had Oracle been successful in proving the merits of its case, it could have taken a bite out of Google’s earnings from Android, and possibly even secured a multi-million dollar judgment. Fortunately for Google, however, the jury verdict came as “a victory not just for Google but the entire Android ecosystem.”
Although Oracle was unsuccessful in establishing that Google had infringed on its patents, it was somewhat successful with regards to its copyright related claims. More specifically, the jury was convinced that Google infringed Oracle’s copyrights by its “use of the structure, sequence and organization of 37 Java APIs;” however, the jury was unable to unanimously determine whether this use was protected under fair use. The jury also found that Google had infringed Oracle’s copyright by using nine lines of a rangeCheck code. In addition, the judge also determined that Google had infringed the Oracle copyright “by its use of eight Java test files in Android.” While this may not mean that a multi-million dollar damages award is in store, it does seem to verify the judge and jury’s attention to the intricacies involved in both Google and Oracle’s software.
As the Washington Post indicates, even though the jury’s role in the trial is over, the judge presiding over the Google v. Oracle dispute still needs to make some key determinations. The judge needs to determine whether the Structure Sequence and Organization (SSO) of an API of the Application Programming Interface (API) is even copyrightable in the first place. If not, then as per an agreement, Oracle will receive statutory damages at a maximum of $150,000 per infringement count. However, if the judge determines that SSOs are copyrightable, then it is likely that a separate suit may be filed involving just the two to three copyright issues that the judge and jury decided in favor of Oracle. Although this case appears to be on the verge of coming to a close right now, the tech titans may return to the courtroom once again following the judge’s verdict.