Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Still Waiting on the Jury Verdict in Oracle and Google’s Java Lawsuit

There’s still no word from the jury in a San Francisco federal courtroom considering the outcome of the first phase of the Oracle lawsuit against Google over the Java programming language.

The jury has had the case since Monday, and as yet there’s no indication of when its deliberations will be complete.

The basic questions jurors are wrestling with concern whether and how it is or isn’t okay for a company to copy portions of software code that would otherwise require a commercial license. Also looming large over the proceedings is whether or not a programming language can by itself by protected by copyright. Oracle lawyers argued at trial that it can, but this is by no means a legal slam dunk.

Google lawyers, for their part, argued that the copying was insignificant, or “no big deal whatsoever.”

Oracle sued Google in 2010, after acquiring Sun Microsystems and becoming the owner of the Java programming language. Google stands accused of using some parts of Java to create Android without having first obtained the relevant licenses, first from Sun, then from Oracle, a license that among other things required compatibility with other flavors of Java.

Once the jury comes back, which could be as soon as today (but we thought that earlier this week), the trial will shift to a second phase over patents. After that, assuming Oracle prevails in one or both of the first two phases, a third phase will determine the amount of damages, if any. The full trial is expected to last two months.

Lots of people are waiting on the outcome of this first phase, however. To all of them, I dedicate Tom Petty’s “The Waiting.”


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