Monday, 07 May 2012 19:05

Jury Delivers a Partial Verdict in the Oracle Vs Google Trial

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73So the Jury in the Oracle V Google trial has reached a partial verdict. The headlines for this are all over the place ranging from Google found guilty to Google trial moves to the next step. As usual the truth is somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. In fact Google was found to have infringed on Copyright for the Java API, but not for Java Documentation. The Jury reached no conclusion on Google’s fair use claims or the claim that APIs cannot be copyrighted.

Because of the partial verdict Google has the option to move for a mistrial (and they are taking it). Oracle on the other hand can also ask for “Infringer’s Profits” which is basically saying that they want a piece of the Android action since the code was in there. Judge Alsop denied this at once with the statement that asking for that over nine lines of code that are not even in Android any longer was “bordering on the ridiculous”

It is now also up to Judge Alsop to rule on the matter of copyrighting APIs in the first place. Google maintains that they cannot a stance which has been backed up by recent litigation in the EU where it was ruled that: “neither the functionality of a computer program nor the programming language and the format of data files used in a computer program in order to exploit certain of its functions constitute a form of expression. Accordingly, they do not enjoy copyright protection.”

This means that the language (Java in this case) cannot be protected under copyright laws. Now that is the EU, but Judge Alsop is sure to know about this and it will influence his decision. We can also expect the penalties that Google might have to pay will be very minor if any at all.

Of course the real issue here is not Google. As we have said many times before if Oracle wins this they can go after many companies that currently use the normally free Java APIs including JavaScript if they really want to push it. The incomplete jury ruling is of concern for the future of many things that we take for granted, but Oracle has not won by any means at this point. There is still a long way to go before this one ends (and there is still a patent trial too) and things could get very messy if Google wins the motion for a mistrial. We honestly hope that does not fly, but that Judge Alsop takes into consideration what Oracle has been asking for (disproportionate damages etc) and see this for what it really is. As always we will keep you up to date on this one.


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