Wednesday, 23 May 2012 13:10

Oracle case continues to drag on


After another inconclusive day in the Oracle-Google, it looks like things will drag into June, as originally set down in the trial schedule.

Yesterday the jury again could not come to any verdict, leading Judge William Alsup to declare that if things were not sorted by the end of business today (US time), then the court would take a break and resume on May 29.

In the trial, now into its sixth week, Oracle claims Google has copied Java API designs into the APIs of its Android mobile operating system; based Android class libraries on Java API designs; and copied from Java code into Android code.

Oracle also alleges that Google violated its patents - seven were originally cited, but five were overturned before the trial, and only two are being considered.

The case is now in the patents phase; arguments ended on May 22 and the jury went into session the same day. The copyrights phase ended with the jurors agreeing that Oracle's copyright had been infringed  but undecided on whether the infringement was covered by fair use. A damages phase is expected after the patents phase, if needed.

There are 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.

Technical questions from the jury to the judge continued yesterday, according to the legal blog Groklaw, continuing to give the indication that an unanimous verdict is unlikely.

The jury wanted to know if, for the purpose of patent 104, the claims covered a symbolic resolution anywhere in the data fields. The judge answered in the negative.

A second query from the jury was whether a reference that identified data by numeric memory location precluded existence of a symbolic reference. To this the judge said that for any given location, it could not be both, it had to be one or the other.

Before the jury began its consultations, Justice Alsup had said, in his instructions to them, that a symbolic reference meant identifying data by a name other than the numeric memory location of the data, and that it was resolved dynamically rather than statically.

Oracle claims Google has copied the way Java uses symbolic references into Android; Google denies this, saying that it used numeric references instead.

The judge has indicated that he will deliver a ruling next week on whether APIs are covered by copyright; for the purposes of jury deliberations in the copyright phase, he asked the panel to assume that they were copyrightable.

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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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