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Could Oracle's lawsuit be sunk by bad paperwork?

Posted: , by Scott H.

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Could Oracle's lawsuit be sunk by bad paperwork?
Paperwork may be boring, but if you’re going to sue someone it’s pretty darned important to get it right. That’s a lesson Oracle may learn not once, but twice during the copyright phase of the trial. Yesterday, Google pointed out that under current copyright law Oracle cannot actually sue for copyright protection for Java as a “collective work” because Oracle never actually registered it as one. And it’s not a mere technicality – copyright law says you can only register a collective work if you are the author of the entire piece, and of course Oracle did not author most of Java.

The result? While Oracle is still entitled to a copyright of Java as a whole, they would not be able to assert protection for individual APIs (a claim that was already contentious and is largely without precedent). That would mean the majority of Oracle's claims may be dismissed, and Oracle would be in the much more difficult position of trying to claim that Google stole Java as a whole. Google has filed a rule 50 motion, requesting that Oracle’s claim to the 37 APIs at stake be dismissed “as a matter of law”, since there would be no legal basis to assert them. Judge Alsup may rule on the motion as early as this afternoon.

As if to prove that when it rains it really does pour, The Verge reported this morning Google introduced evidence from the U.S. Copyright Office indicating they have no record of what Oracle submitted to them on Java. How can that be? Apparently in one case a disk was submitted but turned out to be blank, and in a second case the U.S. Copyright Office says they have no record of a disk being submitted at all.

We all know that physical media can go bad, but it doesn’t generally disappear into thin air. If this holds up it could be devastating to Oracle's attempt to win a large paycheck from Google. Oracle wouldn't lose its copyright in this situation (simply publishing a work grants you a copyright) but if you don’t register your work properly with the Copyright Office you are generally not entitled to trumped-up punitive damages.

So the TL;DR version is this: Oracle may be forced to drop their individual API copyright claims (which is most of the copyright case) and even if not they may not be able to ask for anything more than “actual damages” given their apparent failure to properly register their works with the U.S. Copyright Office.

I’d really hate to be the person(s) whose job it was to burn those disks and ship them off, wouldn’t you?

sources: Groklaw, The Verge

13 Comments
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posted on 26 Apr 2012, 12:50 5

1. tluv00 (Posts: 134; Member since: 18 Oct 2007)


If they are still working someone at Oracle is about to get fired.

posted on 26 Apr 2012, 13:01 2

2. windowsRocks (Posts: 152; Member since: 28 Oct 2011)


Android is becoming a source of Income right from an individual to big tech giants. Oracle is not an exception for that.

posted on 26 Apr 2012, 13:10 5

3. theBankRobber (Posts: 647; Member since: 22 Sep 2011)


Should have taken the lump sum from Google , now they are about to leave with nothing.

posted on 26 Apr 2012, 13:38 7

5. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5856; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Yup-per. As I posted in an earlier article, time for Oracle (and Larry) to wave buh-bye to the Android ship as it pulls away from the Oracle dock.

posted on 26 Apr 2012, 13:15 8

4. kshell1 (Posts: 1143; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)


In my opinion Google took Java and implemented it into their OS not stole it entirely. Oracle's claims are stupidity to an extreme.

posted on 26 Apr 2012, 14:13 4

6. Bluesky02 (Posts: 1439; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)


Things are getting dirty for Oracle

posted on 26 Apr 2012, 14:14 4

7. PackMan (Posts: 277; Member since: 09 Mar 2012)


Oracle has dug themselves into a hole. This case is now done and dusted, as it should have been from the get go.

posted on 26 Apr 2012, 14:37 4

8. jbash (Posts: 341; Member since: 07 Feb 2011)


As if to prove that when it rains it really does poor. correct spelling is pour.

posted on 26 Apr 2012, 15:11 5

9. casbah70 (Posts: 16; Member since: 21 Jun 2011)


correct spelling is 'pour' but 'poor' seems an accurate description of Oracle's direction.

posted on 26 Apr 2012, 18:56

10. master0fursinz (Posts: 104; Member since: 26 Apr 2010)


maybe the guy who was in charge of this matter got wind of a pink slip and got lazy for the rest of his time there and left it all up to fate, and as fate would have it oracle is getting bad karma for letting go an employee that might have been working for them for a long time.

posted on 26 Apr 2012, 19:16 2

11. Devon (Posts: 11; Member since: 07 Oct 2011)


Hey Florian! You reading this? Where's your phoenix from the ashes now? Where's the 6 Billion guaranteed for Oracle your Boss?

posted on 26 Apr 2012, 19:52 1

12. jroc74 (Posts: 4936; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


If this really is the case....seeing as how much money they wanted ....you would think someone would have crossed the T's and dotted the I's a lil more carefully...

posted on 26 Apr 2012, 23:56

13. roscuthiii (Posts: 1836; Member since: 18 Jul 2010)


Hmm... bad paperwork or faulty premise? Both?

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