Thursday, 24 May 2012 10:40

Google cleared of patent infringement claims


Google has not violated Oracle's patents for Java technology, a jury in the case filed by the database maker against the search giant concluded in San Francisco yesterday.

In the copyright phase, which was decided earlier, the jury had concluded that Google had infringed Oracle's copyright but been unable to decide whether that infringement was covered by the principle of fair use.

What remains is for Judge William Alsup to give his ruling on whether APIs are subject to copyright or not. This will only happen on or after May 29 as the judge had already indicated that the trial would take a break until then if the jury had not come down with a verdict by the close of yesterday's deliberations. The jury was dismissed yesterday.

According to the legal blog Groklaw, one of the jurors who was interviewed said that during the copyright phase, the jury had been favouring fair use by a 9-3 margin. Additionally, in the patents phase, only a single juror, the foreman, had been arguing in favour of Oracle.

There were two patents at stake, US Patent 6,061,520, for a method and system for performing static initialisation, and RE38,104, for a method and apparatus for resolving data references in generated code.

Oracle gained ownership of Java when it acquired Sun Microsystems in January 2010. In August that year, Oracle filed the case against Google, claiming both copyright infringement and patent violation. Seven patents were initially cited but five were overturned before the trial began, hence claims could be made only for the remaining two.

On the copyright front, Oracle had accused Google of copying Java API designs into the APIs of its Android mobile operating system; basing Android class libraries on Java API designs; and copying from Java code into Android code.

Oracle has indicated that it will appeal against the verdict. if the judge decides that APIs are subject to copyright, then there will have to a fresh trial to decide on damages.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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