Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Jury Deliberates Oracle-Google Trial, the World Waits

The jury in the Oracle-Google trial will begin its second day of deliberations today, following a round of closing arguments by lawyers for both sides.

From Oracle’s perspective, the basic question jurors will have to answer, as its lawyer Michael Jacobs put it, is whether it’s okay for one company to use another company’s intellectual property without permission. (See Jacobs’ slide deck, embedded below.)

Google attorney Robert Van Nest argued that the amount of Oracle IP that it used was so small as to be “no big deal whatsoever.”

Oracle sued Google in 2010, after Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems and thus became the owner of its Java programming language. Google is accused of using some parts of Java to create Android without having first obtained the relevant licenses, first from Sun, then from Oracle.

Monday’s closing arguments constituted the end of the first phase of the trial, which has also turned into a closely watched battle of the proper use of copyrights over software.

Once the jury comes back, which could be as soon as today, the trial will shift to a second phase concerning patents, after which a third phase will determine the amount of damages, if any. The full trial is expected to last two months.

Judge William Alsup, in his final instructions to the jury, reiterated the parameters of the case, telling panelists that copyright protection covers the “expression of ideas,” but not methods of operation. He said the copyrights Oracle has exerted cover the “structure, sequence and organization” of software code.

Google has argued that APIs shouldn’t be subject to copyright protection because they’re more akin to tools and techniques that programmers use to build software.

Oracle has argued that copyright protections should apply because they’re more granular and targeted than trade-secret law or patents.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik