Oracle v. Google: No Decision Yet in Copyright Deliberations

 
 
By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2012-05-01
 
 
 

The 12-person jury continued in its second day of deliberations for several hours May 1 without resolution in the first phase of the potential landmark Oracle v. Google copyright infringement lawsuit.

The jury discussions will resume at 8 a.m. May 2 at the federal courthouse in San Francisco.

In the copyright and patent trial that began April 16 and Oracle originally brought in August 2010, Oracle is charging Google with stealing parts of its Java software suite to help build its highly successful Android mobile device operating system.

Oracle is seeking about $1 billion in damages and a possible injunction against Google using the software.

Oracle Seeking to Protect Its Sun IP

Oracle became the maintainer of the open-source Java platform in January 2010 as part of its $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

Google has contended that it used freely available parts of the Java package that aren't protected by copyright and have been available for download to any software developer since November 2006, when Sun released the IP to the open-source community after holding it as proprietary for 11 years.

Android, released in 2008 by Google to partners such as Samsung, HTC and other manufacturers for smartphones and tablet PCs, now runs more than 300 million mobile devices.

When the jury reaches a decision about the copyright infringement part of the case€”which involves 37 copyrights held by Oracle€”the patent portion of the case will begin immediately, Judge William Alsup has said. Two patents are set to come under consideration.

Background on the Case

Ostensibly, there is confusion about which parts of the open-source Java code are free and downloadable and which are licensable, and this court case stands to become a landmark in making that distinction. In fact, it could well impact the entire software industry.

While the Java language itself belongs to the open-source community and is free of charge to use, it still must be licensed for commercial deployments under the GNU Public License. The application programming interfaces of Java may be another matter, since APIs are made up of software, specifications and techniques.

Oracle claims in the lawsuit that the "specifications and implementations of the APIs are not a method of operation or system."

Oracle CEO and co-founder Larry Ellison testified April 17 that "Google is the only company I know that hasn't taken a license for Java ... I met with [former Google CEO, now Executive Chairman] Eric Schmidt in 2010 to discuss a joint project in which Google would use Oracle's version of Java in its Android software for smartphones rather than their own version of Java."

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of eWEEK Features and Analysis and writes the Storage Station blog. Twitter: @editingwhiz.

 


Rocket Fuel