No End in Sight to Battle Royale Over Java Patents

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – As a federal judge handed down final judgment in the copyright boondoggle over the Google Android, Oracle asked the court to grant it judgment as a matter of law or a new trial.
     The first of the smartphone wars ended last month in embarrassment for Oracle, which claimed that Google willfully infringed several Java copyrights and patents while developing the Android operating system. Oracle acquired the rights to Java when it bought Sun Microsystems in 2010, and filed suit against Google for the infringements weeks later.
     Though a jury found in May that Google infringed Oracle’s copyrights on 37 application programming interfaces (APIs) and nine lines of range-check code, it could not decide whether the infringement constituted fair use.
     U.S. District Judge William Alsup later set the verdict aside after finding that APIs are not copyrightable.
     Alsup also refused to set aside the jury’s finding that cleared Google of all patent-infringement claims. Mistakes in the report of Oracle’s star witness meant that “a reasonable jury could have rejected every word of his testimony,” Alsup wrote.
     On Wednesday, the judge issued a two-page final judgment, upholding the jury verdicts and his own previous orders.
     Per a prior agreement between the two tech companies, he also handed Oracle a judgment of zero dollars.
     Undeterred by the judge’s final decision – or perhaps because of it – Oracle immediately moved for judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50(b). The filing says Oracle will accept a new trial as an alternative.
     Reiterating and condensing six weeks of trial testimony, and lambasting Alsup’s decision that APIs are not copyrightable, Oracle says Google created “an infringing derivative work” in Android using Java specifications.
     “Google’s deliberate copying of the [structure, sequence and organization] ‘pervades the entire’ 37 Android API packages,” the motion states. “Over Oracle’s objection, the jury was not given an instruction on the creation of a derivative work in the Android code from the Java documentation.”
     Oracle also believes that the court should overturn the jury’s patent-infringement verdict for Google, based on concessions Google’s expert witnesses made and limitations of Alsup put on the scope.
     Google claimed that it had been using Java with Sun’s knowledge and implied consent, but Oracle called that defense insufficient.
     “Google has no credible claim that it relied on Sun/Oracle’s conduct to its detriment or that its reliance was reasonable,” the motion states. “The jury so advised in its Phase I ruling. Overwhelming evidence at trial showed Google was aware that Sun had copyrighted its Java source code and API specifications and had patents that covered its virtual machine technology and that it faced potential legal action by Sun in connection with Android.”
     If Alsup does not grant Oracle judgment as a matter of law, he should still order a new trial, the brief states.
     “For the jury issues these include, but are not limited to: (1) the jury’s finding of non-infringement on copied comments, documentation and the ‘104 and ‘520 patents is against the clear weight of the evidence; (2) the Court erroneously instructed the jury (a) to compare only the English language descriptions of the Java and Android specifications, and (b) to apply a virtual identity standard; (3) the Court erred in not submitting to the jury the issue of Google’s creation of a derivative work from the Java documentation,” Oracle says.
     The software company says it also deserves a new trial because Alsup gave bad jury instructions and an erroneous answer to a juror question in the patent phase. The judge’s copyrightability decision “would cause manifest injustice and contains manifest errors of law and fact,” it added.
     “Oracle reserves all other grounds as to which a new trial may be granted on appeal,” the brief states, paving the way for the costly case’s next phase in the 9th Circuit.
     A hearing on Oracle’s request is tentatively set for July 26.

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