Court: Google didn’t infringe Oracle’s patents

Google’s Android mobile platform has not infringed Oracle’s patents, a California jury decided, putting an indefinite hold on Oracle’s quest for damages.

Court: Google didn't infringe Oracle's patents

Oracle had claimed Google’s Android tramples on its intellectual property rights to the Java programming language. Google argued it did not violate Oracle’s patents and that Oracle cannot copyright certain parts of open source Java.

In addition to finding for Google on patents, the jury foreman told reporters that the final vote on a key copyright issue earlier in the case had heavily favored Google.

David Sunshine, a New York-based intellectual property lawyer who advises hedge funds, said the outcome of the Google trial was humbling for Oracle, which had it won, could have gained handsome payouts given the growing market for Android devices. “It’s a huge blow,” Sunshine said.

Oracle came in this thinking it was going to win billions, now it will probably walk away losing millions in legal fees

For Oracle and its aggressive CEO Larry Ellison, the trial against Google over Java was the first of several scheduled this year against large competitors. Another trial is set to begin next week between Oracle and Hewlett-Packard Co over the Itanium microprocessor.

Still fighting

Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger said the company would continue to defend and uphold Java’s unique functionality.”Oracle presented overwhelming evidence at trial that Google knew it would fragment and damage Java,” she said.

Google general counsel Kent Walker said the company felt it was important to send a message by taking the case to trial. “We didn’t want to back down when we felt the facts were on our side,” Walker said in an interview with Reuters.

Although the jury found earlier that Oracle had proven copyright infringement for parts of Java, it could not unanimously agree on whether Google could fairly use that material.

Without a finding against Google on the fair use question, Oracle cannot recover damages on the bulk of its copyright claims. And US District Judge William Alsup has not yet decided on several legal issues that could determine how a potential retrial on copyright would unfold, if at all.

While Oracle is seeking about $1 billion in copyright damages, the patent damages in play were much lower. In the event it lost on patent liability, Google offered to pay Oracle roughly $2.8 million in damages on the two patents remaining in the case, covering the period through 2011, according to a filing made jointly by the companies before trial.

For future damages, Google proposed paying Oracle 0.5% of Android revenue on one patent until it expires this December and 0.015% on a second patent until it expires in April 2018. Oracle rejected the proposal.

Colleen Chien, a professor at Santa Clara Law in Silicon Valley, said the result shows the risks of IP litigation.

“Oracle came in this thinking it was going to win billions, now it will probably walk away losing millions in legal fees,” Chien said.

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