Oracle Scores Early Points in Java Suit over Google Android

The judge in the Oracle lawsuit against Google has sided with Oracle on the interpretation of certain patent terms in the case, potentially giving Oracle a slight early advantage.

Oracle has drawn a bit of blood in its legal battle with Google over the use of Java in Android, based on the judge's interpretation of certain language in the patent case.

According to a Reuters report, U.S. District Judge William Alsup pretty much sided with Oracle in a "claim construction" issue in the case. The Patent Hawk Website defines claim construction as "the art of translating patent claim jargon into plain English."

In the Oracle vs. Google case, Alsup addressed terms in three of the seven patents Oracle cited in its action. And in an order issued April 27, of five technical terms at issue in the case, Alsup sided with Oracle's interpretation on four of them, and wrote his own for another, Reuters reported.

The Patent Hawk site goes further to say:

""Claim construction disputes arise over both the definition of technical terms and semantic interpretation. The outcome of an attempt at patent enforcement commonly hinges on claim construction: the court-accepted definition of specific terms used in patent claims. Patent litigants spend a bucket of money on claim construction. The reason is that claim construction usually determines two root issues of every patent case: whether the plaintiff has a valid claim, and whether the defendant infringed the patent.""

Florian Mueller, an intellectual property advocate and founder of the NoSoftwarePatents campaign, said, "Claim construction is fairly important. Litigants always fight each other over how to interpret the most important terms. Even if this is only a preliminary position that the judge may still revise, this is for the time being yet another setback for Google, which previously failed to have Oracle's copyright infringement claims thrown out by summary judgment."

Oracle sued Google in August 2010 claiming Google's Android mobile operating system infringes certain Java patents and copyrights Oracle attained in its acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

Scoring early points in the lawsuit could play well for Oracle, particularly if the interpretation of this language gives Oracle even a slight advantage. And though Oracle won this round of the battle, it is not yet clear whether this will amount to a pin prick or something more like a bloody nose.

"It is intuitive that the side which gets to define the terms would have a leg up, but as far as I can tell, it is still early to tell how will this unfold," said Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC. "Oracle's concerns around the value of Java and its fragmentation have merit, and it would seem to me that a collaboration between these two would be in the interest of Java."

Alsup gave both sides until May 6 to submit a critique of his tentative decision, Reuters reported. The case is expected to go to trial by November.