Judge Defends Verdict in Oracle-Google Dispute

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — A federal judge rejected software company Oracle’s claims that Google tainted a jury’s verdict by hiding evidence in a $9-billion copyright trial earlier this year.
Following a two-week trial last May, a 10-member jury found Google’s use of 37 copyrighted Java application program interfaces was fair use.
That verdict came after a previous jury found in 2012 that Google had infringed Oracle’s copyrighted code but deadlocked on the question of fair use.
After the trial in May, Oracle accused Google of concealing plans to expand its Android operating system from mobile devices to laptop and desktop computers, even though Google had turned over some pre-trial discovery on the project.
In a 26-page ruling issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Alsup determined further evidence on Google’s Android expansion plans would not have changed the trial’s outcome because the jury could only consider versions of Android used in smartphones and tablets.
“Oracle’s purported ‘game changer’ would not have changed anything at all, because the scope of the ‘game’ was smartphones and tablets, postponing new and later uses to a later contest,” Alsup wrote.
Before the second trial kicked off, Oracle had asked to present evidence that Google was expanding Android to new markets with products like Android TV, Android Wear and Android Auto.
But Alsup barred Oracle from submitting evidence of new Android products that went beyond the scope of what a jury had considered in the first copyright trial in 2012, instructing Oracle to resolve those claims through future litigation.
The judge also rejected charges that Google engaged in intentional misconduct by not turning over more details on its Android Runtime for Chrome, or ARC, project. The experiment aimed to make the Chrome operating system capable of running Android apps on desktops and laptops.
Oracle claimed Google painted ARC as a failed experiment in its discovery disclosures before announcing on May 19 — the same day Oracle rested its case at trial — that it had plans to launch a similar project.
“Contrary to Oracle, ARC++ documents were in fact timely produced,” Alsup wrote in his ruling. “They laid out the basic goals and technical details of the very product referenced on May 19. Since Oracle had that information, there was no need to supplement the written discovery to the extent evidence of ARC++ was responsive at all.”
In addition, Alsup dismissed a laundry list of other reasons Oracle said it deserves a new trial.
For example, Oracle contested the judge’s rulings that blocked it from showing the jury a redacted email from Stefano Mazzochi, a witness who worked on the open-source Java platform Apache Harmony, who now works for Google.
Alsup found the redacted email included a line in which Mazzochi drew a legal conclusion on the use of Java that he was not qualified to make. The judge also ruled that telling the jury Mazzochi now works for Google might give the wrong impression that he was making decisions that would benefit Google before he worked there.
Nor did Alsup see merit in Oracle’s argument that bifurcating the trial into two phases — a fair-use phase and a damages phase — gave the jury an incentive to end the trial early by ruling in favor of Google.
“It deserves to be said, in favor of our jury, that the ten who served were as punctual, attentive, and diligent in note-taking as any jury this district judge has seen in 17 years of service,” Alsup wrote. “They had all cleared their calendars. We were on target to meet or beat the time estimate given to the jury. Those with hardships had already been excused during jury selection. It is impossible to even suspect that bifurcation somehow steered the jury to rule as it did. The Court remains completely convinced that the verdict rested, after three days of deliberation, solely on the jury’s sincere assessment of the evidence and the instructions of law.”
Google spokesman William Fitzgerald declined to comment on the ruling, and Oracle spokesman Greg Lunsford did not return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday morning.

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