Will the judge in the Oracle versus Google patent lawsuit stay the case?
According to a close observer of the suit, the presiding judge may stay the case. In a July 11 blog post, Florian Mueller, founder of the No Software Patents campaign and author of the FOSSPatents blog, said U.S. District Judge William Alsup is considering a partial or complete stay of Oracle’s lawsuit against Google based on recent documents released by the court.
In his post Mueller writes: “The wording used by the judge even suggests that the question is not if there will be at least a partial stay, but just the scope that it will have. It could also be a complete one.”
In Mueller’s blog post, he points to the text of today’s order:
“At least one day before the hearing, please file a five-page joint summary of the status of the [U.S. Patent and Trademark Office] re-examination and update the parties’ respective views on the extent to which this action should be stayed pending completion of the re-examination. Time will be short at the hearing due to the ongoing criminal trial.“
A stay would mean the case would be held up or suspended for a period of time. In this case, it would appear that the judge might want to stay the case until the U.S. PTO (Patent and Trademark Office) could finish examining the patents at issue in the case. Or a stay by Judge Alsup could mean he is trying to give the sides time for arbitration. However, he also points to time being tight and hinting that resources may be pinched due to an impending criminal trial in the court. A trial in this case had been tentatively scheduled to begin at the end of October.
When Oracle sued Google last August, the database giant claimed Google had infringed on seven Java patents. However, after taking a second look at the patents, the PTO has rejected three of the patents in question outright, Mueller noted.
“Based on the preliminary status of those reexaminations, Oracle has (though not definitively) lost three patents,” Mueller said in his post. “All of the claims of those patents that Oracle wanted to assert have been rejected on a preliminary basis. A fourth patent has been seriously weakened based on the preliminary rejection of many (and especially some very important) claims. A fifth patent has also suffered but came out relatively strong. For the two remaining patents, no first Office actions have been issued yet. At least one of those first Office actions may be filed in the very near term.”
Moreover, Mueller said, “Depending on its scope, even a partial stay could seriously weaken Oracle’s case, and depending on the extent to which the case might be stayed, it’s possible that even Oracle would at some point prefer a complete stay and employ alternative litigation strategies, such as [the U.S. International Trade Commission] complaints against Android device makers refusing to pay the $15-$20 per-unit royalty Oracle purportedly demands.”
Whether Oracle faces a setback in this case in the form of a stay, Mueller says he believes the company will continue to aggressively press on.
“I don’t think Oracle will let Google off the hook anytime soon unless Google agrees to Oracle’s proposed terms,” Mueller said. “I believe that in the event it’s necessary, Oracle will probably take more time and modify its litigation strategy. It’s not in Oracle’s DNA to give up, and Oracle wants billions of dollars out of this case.”