Google scores significant Android patent lawsuit win against Oracle, but patent expert says appeal will likely reverse decision
The epic courtroom showdown between Google and Oracle over the disputed use of Java in the Android operating system appears to have finally reached a significant conclusion.
The latter’s six year legal campaign could be at an end after a jury ruled that Google did not unfairly appropriate parts of the Java platform.
That said, the marathon legal battle may not be over as Oracle has already said that it will appeal the decision, and at least one patent expert thinks Oracle has a good chance.
The ten man jury in the San Francisco courtroom reached their decision at 1pm PST (9pm BST) on Thursday evening.
It took the jury three days to reach their decision, but they ultimately decided that Google’s use of 37 Java APIs in the Android source code was fair.
“Today’s verdict that Android makes fair use of Java APIs represents a win for the Android ecosystem, for the Java programming community, and for software developers who rely on open and free programming languages to build innovative consumer products,” Google was reported to have said in an emailed statement.
After the verdict was read aloud, Judge William Alsup thanked the jury for their service reported Motherboard. The judge also noted that the jurors – who often came to court even earlier than the set start time of 7:45am, and lingered after hours to pore over their notes – had been “attentive” and “worked hard.”
“I salute you for your extreme hard work in this case,” he reportedly told the jury. The judge has earlier in the week said that it was “the best jury this courthouse has ever seen.”
Once the jury was dismissed, Alsup reportedly said, “I know there will be appeals and the like.”
And Oracle lost no time in making its feelings on the matter known.
“We strongly believe that Google developed Android by illegally copying core Java technology to rush into the mobile device market. Oracle brought this lawsuit to put a stop to Google’s illegal behavior. We believe there are numerous grounds for appeal,” Oracle’s general counsel Dorian Daley reportedly said in an emailed statement.
The courtroom tussle was a high stakes battle between two big players in the tech industry. At stake were damages that could potentially run into many billion of dollars.
Oracle said in March it would seek up to $9.3 billion (£6.5bn) in reparations, a figure that reflects the quick growth of the market for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, which have come to eclipse conventional PCs.
And the jury verdict drew a damning response from patent expert Florian Mueller, who labelled the “rigged retrial” as “absolutely wrong.”
“At the outset of the trial, I had already predicted that the jury was more likely than not to find for Google,” he wrote. “I said 55-60 percent. That was based on the fact that pretrial decisions by Judge Alsup had already favoured Google, and his jury instructions on the ‘fair use’ rules were unbelievably unfair and biased. They made it sound like the hurdle for ‘fair use’ was rather low, while it’s actually just meant to be an EXCEPTION (and copyright protection is the norm).”
Mueller also said that while Google was allowed to present all of the “evidence” and testimony, Oracle had been precluded from presenting the entirety of its evidence.
“Presumably, Judge Alsup will deny Oracle’s motion for judgement as a matter of law, if his jury instructions are any indication,” wrote Mueller. “Then Oracle will appeal again. I predict Oracle is very likely to succeed once again on appeal.”
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