Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Jury Rules for Oracle in Java Trial

The Associated Press just flashed the news that there is a verdict in the Oracle-Google trial.

As the AP has it, the jury has decided against Google on Oracle’s copyright claim, but has reached an impasse on some key questions. There’s obviously more to this story as it develops. I’ll be updating as soon as I know more.

Update: The jury sided in part with Oracle, ruling that the Android mobile operating system infringes on some Java copyrights. However, it was deadlocked over the question of whether that use constituted “fair use,” and was therefore protected. This impasse appears to be the basis for a mistrial motion that Google lawyers say they intend to file.

Oracle has not prevailed on every point and, in fact, it’s looking like a messy victory. The jury found code in two files to be infringing, and that some elements of Android application programming interfaces or APIs were similar to Oracle’s Java APIs.

Attorneys for Google told Judge William Alsup that they intend to file a motion for a mistrial because of the impasse over the “fair use” question. Alsup told both sides to be prepared to argue that motion, which will come later.

A few other things are coming up: Judge Alsup still has to rule on whether APIs can be copyrighted as a matter of law. Jurors were instructed to deliberate, assuming that they could be copyrighted.

There is a clear finding that Google has infringed on nine lines of code. This came in Question 3A, concerning something called RangeCheck in Java. They decided that Google hadn’t infringed on two other blocks of code. With the jury out of the room, Judge Alsup said that there is “zero finding of copyright liability” on anything other than the nine lines.

That’s good for Google, because Oracle’s own expert at trial said they’re not worth much. An Oracle attorney suggested that the company should receive a share of Google’s profits on top of regular damages. Judge Alsup rejected that as “bordering on the ridiculous.”

From Google:

“We appreciate the jury’s efforts, and know that fair use and infringement are two sides of the same coin. The core issue is whether the APIs here are copyrightable, and that’s for the court to decide. We expect to prevail on this issue and Oracle’s other claims.”

And here’s Oracle’s statement:

“Oracle, the nine million Java developers, and the entire Java community thank the jury for their verdict in this phase of the case. The overwhelming evidence demonstrated that Google knew it needed a license and that its unauthorized fork of Java in Android shattered Java’s central write once run anywhere principle. Every major commercial enterprise — except Google — has a license for Java and maintains compatibility to run across all computing platforms.”

For reference, I’ve embedded the questionnaire that the jurors were required to fill out:

Jury Questions


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