Oracle’s efforts to secure a multi-billion dollar payout from Google for allegedly infringing its Java technology when developing Android took a major blow yesterday as a jury ruled unanimously in Google’s favour in the latest stage of the legal case.
Bloomberg reports that the second phase of the intellectual-property trial in San Francisco resulted in the jury concluding that Google did not infringe two key patents when developing the Java-based smartphone OS. Although the jury had earlier ruled that Google had infringed Oracle’s copyrights it had been deadlocked on whether this constituted “fair use.”
According to the report, Oracle may now be limited to seeking damages of about US$150,000 rather than the US$3 billion to US$4 billion payout anticipated if the jury had found an infringement.
"This case is maybe something like a near disaster for Oracle,” Brian Love, an IP attorney and teaching fellow at Stanford Law School, told Bloomberg. “[The US$150,000] potentially is not enough to cover what they are spending over a couple of days [in legal fees]."
"Today’s jury verdict that Android does not infringe Oracle’s patents was a victory not just for Google but the entire Android ecosystem," said Catherine Lacavera, Google’s director of litigation.
"Oracle presented overwhelming evidence at trial that Google knew it would fragment and damage Java,” countered Deborah Hellinger, a spokeswoman for Oracle. “We plan to continue to defend and uphold Java’s core write-once run-anywhere principle and ensure it is protected for the nine million Java developers and the community that depend on Java compatibility."
According to Bloomberg, the judge presiding over the case may issue a ruling next week on whether Oracle’s Java APIs can be copyrighted. A ruling that they can’t would be another blow to Oracle, while a ruling for Oracle would revive the database giant’s ability to seek large damages.