The jury in Oracle's patent case against Google delivered a unanimous verdict in favor of the search giant today, exonerating Google's use of Java in Android and dashing Oracle’s dreams of millions of dollars in damages.
The trial was supposed to have three phases: copyright, patents and then damages. The jury delivered a partial verdict in the copyright phase, which means the decision to award damages in the copyright phase comes down to the judge, William Alsup. There will be no phase three and the trial, for all intents and purposes, is over.
And #Googacle The Trial is over. Judge Alsup dismissing jury. Since Oracle won virtually nothing, no damages phase at this point.— Ginny LaRoe (@GinnyLaRoe) May 23, 2012
Google off the hook for patent infringement. For now, Oracle is walking away with infringement on 9 lines of Java code out of 15 mil. Total.— Caleb Garling (@CalebGarling) May 23, 2012
Oracle will appeal the result. It has millions of dollars tied up in legal fees and billions of dollars tied up in Java. To walk away empty handed will sting, and Oracle has proven that it is very committed to using the judicial system to make money from its acquisition of Java creator Sun Microsystems.
While the jury has been dismissed, the issue of final damages that Google may have to pay Oracle is not yet finished. Judge Alsup has to decide on the copyright phase of the trial that the jury left unanswered when it delivered its verdict. The jury found that Google indeed copied the “structure, sequence and organization” (SSO) of 37 Oracle APIs related to Java. The jury came to an impasse on whether or not Google’s copying of the SSO of the APIs constituted fair use. Alsup will determine on that issue of fair use in the next week and then determine any damages Oracle can claim.
Both parties had statements prepared at the conclusion of the proceedings.
“Oracle presented overwhelming evidence at trial that Google knew it would fragment and damage Java. We plan to continue to defend and uphold Java's core write once run anywhere principle and ensure it is protected for the nine million Java developers and the community that depend on Java compatibility,” Oracle said in a statement.
Google’s response touted the verdict not just as a win for Google, but a win for Android and its vast ecosystem.
“Today's jury verdict that Android does not infringe Oracle's patents was a victory not just for Google but the entire Android ecosystem,” Google stated.
Oracle had pinned its hopes on convincing the jury that Google was a no-good, dirty thief that damaged Java and its community by outright copying the language, its patents and its APIs into Android. Oracle hoped that a jury would be more likely to award bigger damages than a single judge. Ultimately, that strategy failed. Yet, the fact that the jury did not come to a concrete decision in the copyright phase does leave a distinct opening for Oracle when it eventually appeals the verdicts in the case.
The trial has been a soap opera of epic scale with two tech giants battling about the future of tech technologies (Java and Android) that are essential aspects of the technology landscape. Oracle came away the loser while Google can sit back and know that its investment in Android is safe… for now. While Oracle is the first company to sue Google directly over copyrights and patents, it is likely not the last. Patent battles between Microsoft, Apple and Android manufacturers are being fought across the globe. Many of those battles are attacks against manufacturers like Motorola, HTC and Samsung. In certain ways, the lawsuits against Android OEMs are proxy fights against Google itself.
Google now owns its own smartphone manufacturer with this week’s final approval of its acquisition of Motorola. Expect companies like Research In Motion, Microsoft and Apple to now come directly after Google in future lawsuits.
For now, though, Google can celebrate knowing that it has defended Android, and millions, if not billions, of dollars in damages have been averted.