SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A visibly peeved federal judge had stern words for Oracle and Google on Monday as a flurry of questions from the jury makes a verdict appear distant and unlikely.
Frustrated over the squabbles between Google attorney Robert Van Nest and Oracle’s Michael Jacobs, U.S. District Judge William Alsup vented after pointing out, not for the first time in the eight-week-long trial: “You lawyers can’t ever agree on anything.”
“I’m pointing my fingers at both of you now,” Alsup said, actually pointing both of his index fingers at both sides. “I hope you both learn something from this about patent cases. Things aren’t as clear-cut here as they are when you’re in your rooms with your whiteboards and your brilliant ideas.”
“Whoever loses, too bad for you,” he added. “Take it up with a federal circuit court.”
The jury, now in its fifth day of deliberations in the patent phase of the landmark infringement trial, is doing exactly what common sense says one should do to overcome confusion: ask questions.
In the last three days of deliberations, there have been no fewer than 10 questions, not counting the ones from a sick juror who asked for a day off and got dismissed instead.
Each question has surrounded terminology and definitions of Oracle’s ‘104 and ‘520 patents. Oracle claims Google willfully infringed these patents to bring its Android operating system to the market quickly and cheaply. Each of the jury’s questions has been more circular than the last, indicating a valiant effort to grapple with concepts and technology that exceed the average layperson’s understanding.
Monday’s last note before the jury went home for the afternoon summed up their frustration, essentially asking Alsup to give them the answers for a big exam on ‘104 patents. Alsup declined.
“This is why we try cases to a jury,” the judge said. “It’s so that you figure it out. I’m sorry I can’t answer every question.”
Alsup finished the Oracle-Google portion of his day by telling both sides to start planning for the worst.
“Not to be too negative, but you should be considering what the next steps are if we get a hung jury,” Alsup said.
The jury heads back into the deliberation room Tuesday morning to see if a verdict can be reached.