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Google is cleared of Java patent infringement in Android

Oracle bowled out
Thu May 24 2012, 10:31

ENTERPRISE VENDOR Oracle has lost its alleged Java patent infringement case against Google after the jury returned a unanimous verdict that Oracle had failed to prove patent infringement in Android by Google.

Oracle's lawsuit against Google started falling apart just weeks after it was filed, with lengthy and often comical pre-trial proceedings leaving little of Oracle's case standing. Nevertheless Oracle continued to throw money at the case, however now the jury has returned a verdict that clears Google of infringing Java patents in its Android operating system.

Judge William Alsup has yet to rule on whether the Java language APIs are protected by copyright, but US legal precedents suggest that he will rule that they are not copyrightable.

According to Groklaw's reports, the jury was hung in the first phase of the trial, split nine to three in favour of Google on copyright fair use, and only the jury foreman held out for Oracle for a while in the Java patent infringement phase. The two firms' legal teams have decided not to pursue the third phase of the trial to argue about damages.

Google issued a statement in which it said, "Today's jury verdict that Android does not infringe Oracle's patents was a victory not just for Google but the entire Android ecosystem."

However James Gosling, who is widely credited as having the biggest influence on the development of Java at Sun Microsystems, wanted a different verdict.

Gosling wrote that the case "went out with a whimper", adding, "Court cases are never about right and wrong, they're about the law and what you can convince a jury of. For those of us at Sun who felt trampled-on and abused by Google's callous self-righteousness, I would have preferred a different outcome - not from the court case as much as from events of years past."

As for Oracle's infamous damage claims, of which there have been many thanks to fanciful amounts being repeatedly revised downwards, the firm will be lucky to win enough cash to pay its lawyers. Of course Oracle has the right to appeal, but for now Google and software developers everywhere have scored a victory. µ


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