Thursday, 21 June 2012 16:14

Oracle Ends Up Getting Nothing In Java Law Suit Against Google

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73Remember the Google V Oracle case? You know that one that had Oracle’s Larry Ellison (and his pack of lawyers) attempting to show how nine-lines of code made it possible for Google to meet a deadline? Oh you do remember, ok well when we left the story the Jury had made one important decision and half of another. They had agreed that Google did not violate Oracle’s Java patents at all while building Android, but in an earlier decision could not agree if APIs (Application Programing Interfaces) were protected under copyright. They did say that if they were, well then Google was guilty.

Since the jury was unable to decide on the fate of an API’s protection under copyright it was up to Judge William Alsup to make that determination. Alsup, who turned out to be a programmer himself, is probably one of the more qualified to make this type of determination. Oracle was not going to take this laying down though. Throughout the whole trial they continued to ask for infringer’s wages in addition to other damages. Alsup warned them that this could end up hurting them and they might only get statutory damages at best.

It seems that the Oracle legal team has decided to try an interesting but dangerous strategy. They chose to leave the whole ball of wax in Judge Alsup’s hands. This way if they won they could appeal the damage amount and if they lost they could appeal based on receiving nothing. It was a win-win for them. If they held out they might have been stuck with less than what they wanted. It is very clear they were not happy with the Judge in the case as he was less than polite to both sides at times as they tried to show some pretty ridiculous things. In the end Alsup ruled that APIs are not protected under copyright so Oracle gets nothing. The ruling is a relief to many programmers and software developers as it means that Oracle cannot come after anyone that has used a Java API in their code (as was feared).

It is probably a safe bet that once the decision was in Alsup’s hands Oracle began working on the appeal. From that point and will Alsup’s obvious qualifications the trial was a losing proposition for Oracle. What we are wondering now is what track Oracle will take in their Appeal. It is obvious that the direct approach to this has failed (and in many patent/copyright cases this is happening more often). They cannot simply go in and try to claim that a tiny portion of a product has caused them grievous financial harm anymore. Still there is a chance that as long as Larry Ellison is in charge they will continue to try.


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