Google and Oracle have been going at it for weeks now over both patent and copyright infringement claims made by the latter company. At least one issue is settled, though, as the jury on the case has decided that Google did not infringe any of Oracle's patents with Android. This is only a small part of Oracle's assault on Google. The larger issue is on the matter of copyright infringement, but at least on the patent issue, Google seems to be in the clear.

It's been a long road to get here, as the jury has been debating the matter for at least a week. During that time, the jury went through several rounds of questions to clarify the intensely technical topics at hand. At one point, Judge Aslup even had to have words with the lawyers, as neither could agree on how to phrase a question posed to the jurors.  The deliberations went on for so long that the judge and lawyers all agreed if the jury hadn't come up with an answer by 1pm Wednesday (read: pretty much now), the case would've been postponed until after the Memorial Day Weekend.

The Bigger Picture

Since the jury found that neither of the two patents in question were infringed, though, the case will obviously not move on to the damages phase, which should be a relief for Google. The internet giant isn't out of the woods yet, though. The bigger question is whether or not Google's infringement of Oracle's copyright on the structure, sequence, and organization (SSO) of 37 Java APIs (which the company was found guilty of) qualified as fair use. The jury was unable to return a decision on this point, so this is still a little up in the air and the decision will likely be appealed by Oracle.

First, though, the judge still needs to decide whether the SSO of the APIs is even copyrightable in the first place. Depending on how the judge comes down on this decision, Oracle has a couple options to pursue in getting its big payday from Google. If the judge does find that the SSOs are copyrightable, Oracle will bundle a couple other minor infringement charges in with the SSO charges to be taken to a new trial or appeal. Oracle would, of course, prefer this route as it would give the company a second chance to get a firm verdict on the fair use issue. If the company could prove that the already-established infringement was, in fact, not covered under fair use, it could get a much bigger payout than it would if the trial went to the damages phase as is. If the judge decided the SSOs were not copyrightable, however, the two much more minor counts of infringement (related to nine lines of rangeCheck code and eight decompiled Java files) would net Oracle statutory damages of up to $150,000 each. Clearly Oracle is hoping to get more than $300k for its troubles.

Beyond Tomorrow

Of course, that's not to say that any of this is likely to be over any time soon. With so much on the line for Oracle, you can count on an appeal happening no matter what the verdict ends up being because, let's be real, Oracle isn't getting the verdict it wants the first time around. Oracle would prefer that the courts say that Google is a big fat stealer and that the entire success of Android is due to the infringed copyrighted works, and so clearly Oracle deserves a ton of that sweet Android money. Unfortunately, for Oracle, it's not quite so simple.

Sources: The Verge, Ars Technica

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • AppleFUD

    Now if the judge would just rule that APIs are NOT copyright protected. . .

    • FlexPlexico

      And the same for file formats ... (though that is not part of the case)

  • http://omgdroid.com/ Tony Simons

    Woot! Score one for the good guys!

  • toshistation

    There are no infringers here. Only FRANDs you haven't met yet. :D

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZLOTEIADMVYKDQXQBWAO6P7XRQ Jim

      Another remark like that and you will be PUNished

      • Max Barlow

        Haha, PUNny people here 

  • Alex1x

    Let's see if I got this right:
    (a) Java is free as long as it's not being resold
    (b) Google builds Android using "some" Java and hands them out for free
    (c) Developers build apps using the free platform and sell them
    (d) Google strikes a deal with devs to include ads and pays them accordingly (sort of like Google creates apps and sells them
    (e) Oracle wants money from "Google aka app developers"... So technically if Oracle wins, all paid apps with no ads must pay Oracle... Sort of like all the Web using Java and selling" their products" using Java only as delivery method must pay?

    I think Oracle is bitter over $$$ not coming into their pocket while others are banking. Oracle offering free Java is as if someone did something really special with WebOs and made lots of money and HP gets mad for making it open source for free and not making money (srry for the dull example, lol)
    Right or wrong?

    • New_Guy

       I'm right there with you. I never understood the problem knowing that Java was supposed to be free. I think the problem came in when Oracle purchased Sun Microsystems (who created JAVA) and Oracle says, "hmm, they should have made money on this...WE can make money on this." You hit it on the head. The mighty dollar is front and center on this one.

    • http://twitter.com/namd88 Nam Dang

      Oracle didn't offer Java for the open source community, Sun did. Oracle is all about greedy business

  • New_Guy

    Wow! First the Moto  acquisition and now this!!!

    Google is en fuego this month =D!!!

  • http://profiles.google.com/kehnin Kehnin Dyer

    oracle goes and buys sun microsystems because sun had mysql and other stuff, and took the responsibility of maintaining Java, now they want to sue google for writing their own VM that runs byte code? i really don't see the problem, unless there was a "no compete" for the employees google took. 
    but then i hate oracle for destorying sun, and think they should suffer.

    • Gnack

      They destroyed the sun??? Holy shit!

      • Opinor

         I also hate Oracle because of that. Destroyed OpenOffice, destroyed OpenSolaris, kind of closing VirtualBox... let's see what happens with MySQL and Java...

  • mgamerz

    Oracle, suck a fat one.

  • Freak4Dell

    "At lease"?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      Fixed. Thanks.