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Oracle must decide whether to wait for USPTO before trial in Android lawsuit

Stuck between a rock and a hard place
Fri Mar 02 2012, 17:00

ENTERPRISE VENDOR Oracle has been asked to decide whether it wants to wait until the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) reaches final decisions on the validity of five patents before going to trial against Google over its Android operating system.

Oracle has alleged that Google's Android operating system infringes some of its Java patents, and initially it claimed billions in damages. Not only has Oracle's damages claim been revised significantly downwards, but the USPTO has issued final rejections on four patents involved in the lawsuit, causing Oracle to withdraw one from the case.

Now Judge William Alsup has asked Oracle if it wants to wait for appeals of the USPTO's final decisions before continuing to trial.

Judge Alsup said, "[G]iven that the examiners have issued final rejections on patents '720, '702, '476, and '205, and Oracle has only withdrawn the '476 patent, but still wishes to go to trial on patents '720, '702, '205, '520, and '104, and Oracle still wishes to have an instruction that those patents must be presumed valid and can only be found invalid by clear and convincing evidence, would it be better to postpone trial until after final decisions by the PTO on administrative appeal?"

He continued in more direct language, asking Oracle to answer the following question, "[T]o avoid this problem, will Oracle irrevocably withdraw with prejudice patents '720, '702, and '205?" Should Oracle remove the patents with prejudice it would mean that the firm could not reassert them at a later date, effectively ending the possibility of Oracle coming back to challenge Google using the same patents.

Oracle's handling of its Android patent infringement claims has been little more than a farce and on the face of it, the firm has managed to engineer a situation that is worse than when it started. Not only have its repeated attempts to estimate damages suggested that the firm doesn't have a clue about what its Java patents might be worth, or why, but also it is looking increasingly likely that several of its patents are going to be invalidated by the USPTO. µ


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