SOFTWARE HOUSE Oracle has been ordered to limit the scope of its lawsuit against Google in which it alleges that Google infringed Java patents in the Android operating system.
Oracle filed the lawsuit against Google last year claiming that Google's immensely popular Android operating system infringed Java patents that it acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems. Oracle submitted a total of 132 claims in seven patents and court documents reveal that Google identified "hundreds of prior art references". But US District Judge William Alsup said, "This is too much."
Judge Alsup ordered a considerable narrowing of the claims to ensure "only a triable number of these items" will be placed before a jury in October. He cut Oracle's initial 132 claims to just three and allowed only eight prior art submissions by Google. Oracle will have to surrender 129 of its patent infringement claims against Google and Judge Alsup shut the door against Oracle refiling those claims in subsequent legal action unless it is against new products. Basically Oracle will have to completely drop 129 claims of patent infringement against Google's Android operating system.
The narrowing of claims down to just three will be made in stages set out by Judge Alsup. The judge said that within seven days of the finalised claim construction Oracle will have to narrow its patent infringement case to 40 asserted claims. A further seven days after that, Google will have to narrow its case arguing patent invalidity to 120 prior art references. Judge Alsup said that this first stage should be completed by the end of May.
The second reduction will follow expert discovery, with Oracle having to narrow its claims to 20 by 24 August and five days later Google will have to reduce its invalidity argument to 60 prior art submissions. The final reduction, which will bring it to three asserted claims by Oracle and eight prior art submissions by Google, will follow the summary judgement phase of litigation just prior to trial.
Judge Alsup ordered that the summary judgement hearing will occur on 13 October with the trial set to begin on 31 October.
With Oracle's patent infringement claims limited to three and Google limited to eight prior art submissions, Oracle's considerable legal team will be working out which three claims have the best chance of prevailing against Google. Google on the other hand will have to decide which eight prior art submissions will stave off a verdict that could have a negative impact on its ability to develop, market and distribute its Android mobile operating system.
Oracle has informed The INQUIRER that Judge Alsup will make the decision on the number of patents and prior art references after both Google and Oracle submit drafts. The deadline for both parties to submit drafts to the court is noon Pacific Central Time (UTC-8) on 6 May.
Following Google and Oracle's draft submissions Judge Alsup will finalise the schedule for the narrowing of the plaintiff's patent claims and defendant's prior art submissions. µ
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