Jury finds that Android does not infringe on Oracle's patents

Jury finds that Android does not infringe on Oracle's patents
After a week of deliberations on the second phase of the Oracle v Google trial (this one covering patents), a jury has ruled decisively in favor of Google and the little green robot, acquitting Big G of infringing on any of the patents that Oracle asserted against them. Given the finding the judge has dismissed the jury and the trial is basically over.

The trial was scheduled to have a third phase where the jury would assess damages to be awarded to Oracle, but Oracle won nothing in the copyright phase that would be worth more than statutory damages (that’s about $150,000 for those of you keeping track), and nothing at all in the patent phase, so there is no longer a reason to have a damages portion of the trial. Judge Alsup still needs to write up his ruling on whether or not APIs can even be copyrighted – if he finds that they can’t be then Oracle will lose most or all of that $150 grand; either way it’s a far cry from the billions of dollars that Oracle had claimed they were going to win last year.

There is already spin coming from both sides. Google released a statement stating:

 “Today’s jury verdict that Android does not infringe Oracle’s patents was a victory not just for Google but the entire Android ecosystem.

Oracle, who is trying to maintain appearances in the face of such a clear legal defeat, released the following statement:

"Oracle presented overwhelming evidence at trial that Google knew it would fragment and damage Java. 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."

We're sure to see many more "experts" weigh in on the subject in coming days. Oracle-sponsored patent blogger Florian Mueller has already written a long post about how the issue is “far from over”, and while his write up is predictably skewed, in general he is almost certainly correct; Oracle will undoubtedly appeal the findings on both the patent and copyright phase (especially if Judge Alsup rules that APIs cannot be copyrighted), and we can expect this to go on for another year or two – in fact the issue of software interface copyrights is so important to the entire industry we wouldn’t be surprised if the issue eventually lands before the U.S. Supreme Court.

That doesn’t make this a meaningless verdict however; a loss could have opened Google up to major damages and at least the threat of an injunction. Perhaps more importantly, it would have given Android a presumption of guilt and thrown some uncertainty about its future into the plans of OEMs looking to make smartphones. Instead Android will now enjoy an enhanced presumption of stability and legal independence. It will also give Google the upper hand in any further attempts to reach a settlement between them and Oracle.

sources: Ginny LaRoe, Groklaw, FOSS Patents

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