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Oracle v. Google - Verdict Will Arrive Monday

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Starting on Monday, April 30th, the jury in the Oracle v. Google trial began deliberations for a verdict on whether Google infringed on Oracle copyrights around the Java APIs.  A decision like this one, with a great deal of technical complexity and a lot riding on the outcome, could take as long as a week to come through according to Judge William Alsup.  Keep checking the updates section below to find out when the verdict finally comes in.

One thing to keep in mind is that this decision by the jury will not determine whether APIs are copyrightable.  Most people will be pleased to know that Judge Alsup, who has a good deal of experience in these technical patent cases, will be the sole decision maker on the patentability of APIs, not a non-technical jury.

Update: Friday, May 4

The jury has reached a unanimous decision on all but one of the questions in Judge Alsup's instructions to the jury.  Some of the jury said their may be an impasse on this one particular question but others are saying they may come to a unanimous decision on the final question by Monday, which is when the partial verdict (which was reached today) will be announced.  Guess it's a cliffhanger until the end of the weekend.  But we did narrow it down to three questions - one of these are the question that jurors are stuck on:

Update: Tuesday, May 1

The jury spent the entire day deliberating and have ajourned until Wednesday.  They did have a question for Judge Alsup concerning Google's use of the Java APIs from Apache Harmony, which the lawyers from both sides spent 20 minutes going back and forth on the wording of the reply to the jury. 

The most interesting piece of news today was the virtual confirmation from an SEC report that Johnathan Schwartz's (former Sun CEO) blog while he was at Sun was indeed considered a corporate blog and not a personal one.  This is important because Scott McNealy (the Sun CEO before Schwartz) testified under oath in support of Oracle's case claiming that Schwartz's blog was personal and therefore his well-known post in support of Android was not a company position.  I don't know whether or not this could be considered perjury, but I'm sure Google's lawyers will be all over this.

Later on Tuesday, James Gosling elaborated on his 'Google slimed Sun' and talked in greater detail about his personal feelings around the whole API/Language patenting issue.  Here an interesting quote from his blog:

They [Oracle] wouldn't do any of the nightmare scenarios that some have imagined: such a meltdown would not be in their own self interest. They have actually been unexpectedly good stewards of Java (although less so of Solaris).

The issue has always been interoperability. It's one of the major aspects that has made the Java community thrive. The freedom of developers to expect their programs to work has always been at tension with the freedom of platform providers to do whatever they please. At Sun, we always sided with developers.

The Java patents were used by Sun as a tool to enforce interoperability

--James Gosling, Father of Java

Update: Wednesday, May 2

After his testimony last week, Scott McNealy spoke out some more today in a Bloomberg inteview.  He has also set up a twitpoll asking people who is right in the Oracle v. Google case.  The talley is currently at 33% in favor of Oracle, and 40% in favor of Google.  I imagine a Javalobby poll would be lobsided in favor of Google, so I won't bother asking, but feel free to disagree.

12:07 EST:
The jury has sent another question to Judge Alsup.  It's a question about whether they should consider Android ad revenue to be a commercial use of the OS, which would negate fair use.  The Judge will essentially say that they should consider the ad revenue to be commercial use.  The fact that they're asking about fair use could indicate that they may already be agreeing that there is infringement, because unless there's infringement, there's no reason to bring fair use into play.

Update: Thursday, May 3

Still no decision but Judge Alsup has asked both parties to respond to a list of questions he's made about the recent EU Court of Justice decision, in which it was determined that programming languages cannot be copyright protected.  He believes that the ruling could have a significant impact on his decision as to whether APIs are copyrightable in the US.

Here were some of the questions Alsup asked, many Java devs could probably answer them:

6. Is it agreed that the following is true, at least as of 1996?

The following were the core Java Application Programming Interface: java.lang, java.util and java.io.

7. Does the Java programming language refer to or require any method, class or package outside the above three?

8. To what extent do subparts of the above three Java packages refer to any other Java packages or subpart of other packages (meaning outside the three)? To the extent this occurs, should those outside subparts be deemed to be “core” to the programming language?

-- Via Groklaw



Chris Clark replied on Wed, 2012/05/02 - 3:17pm

I await with baited breath on this one...

I was also following the Samsung vs. Apple case, and am tearing my hair out wondering why these companies are spending so much time litigating when they could be innovating.

Of course, there are so many parallels between Android and Java that it would always go down to the issue of interoperability.

I like Android, and hope that an agreement can be reached without any severe impact on the market.

Jonathan Fisher replied on Wed, 2012/05/02 - 5:05pm

wow... the precedent that this would set is unbelievable. I really wish a "jury of peers" in this case meant a "jury of computer scientists."

Sura Sos replied on Wed, 2012/05/02 - 10:43pm

During the integration meetings between Sun and Oracle where we were being grilled about the patent situation between Sun and Google, we could see the Oracle lawyer's eyes sparkle. Filing patent suits was never in Sun's genetic code. Alas....



surprise surprise




Catalin Strimbei replied on Fri, 2012/05/04 - 1:01am in response to: Sura Sos

There is only one good case for Java community out of this litigation: Google and Oracle to establish a way to interoperate the two Java encarnations: Dalvik vs. JVM. So maybe ... maybe ... someday to be inter-compatible in some way (I think of bytecode but I'm afraid this couldn't be possible ...). Google promises to rejoin their Android OS with the Linux common kernel ... maybe there is a way for Java too ...

Liam Knox replied on Sat, 2012/05/05 - 1:18am in response to: Chris Clark

Wow aren't you ignorant?


If you invented Java would you not care about it.

Innovating?  What was more innovative in Computer Science for the last 30 years than Java.


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