back to article Google in the clear on Oracle patents

Google has successfully defended Android against Oracle’s patent infringement claim, leaving whether its API breaches copyright as the only question still in play between the two companies. The 10-person San Francisco jury has found that neither of the two patents that were the grounds for Oracle’s suit were infringed. As a …

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Probaby not too important from Oracle's point of view

From http://www.fosspatents.com/2012/05/jury-doesnt-find-google-to-infringe-two.html :

"Before this trial started, it had already become crystal clear that the copyright part of the case was going to be the important one, not the patents.[...] Oracle itself made this set of priorities perfectly clear when it offered in mid-January to stay, or dismiss without prejudice, all of its patent claims in favor of a near-term copyright trial.[...] the mere fact that Oracle officially made such an offer shows that the importance of the patent part of the case is very, very limited."

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FAIL

Re: Probaby not too important from Oracle's point of view

Funny that wasn't the FUD that Oracle was spewing to all of Android handset makers and Google's other customers.

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Facepalm

Re: Probaby not too important from Oracle's point of view

Did you . . . you didn't . . . oh yes you did. You invoked Florian Mueller on The Register's comment board. I'm going to step well away from you and watch the hatefest.

In any case, this battle is far from over. Both companies are sure to fight this case to the bitter end (emphasis on the bitter), so look out for countless appeals and endless legal maneuvering.

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Re: Probaby not too important from Oracle's point of view

And yet this is what Oracle employee Florian Mueller (of FOSS Patents) was saying earlier:

“If Google could countersue, it might already have a favorable settlement with Oracle in its hands. Since it can’t, it will either have to fend off all seven patents asserted by Oracle (plus any others that Oracle could assert in a second suit), in each case by taking the patent down or proving that there’s no infringement, or it will have to come up with some theory that it was entitled to a license of some sort. Otherwise, Oracle will prevail and the vast majority of Android applications would presumably have to be rewritten. So chances are this will cost Google (and possibly the Android ecosystem at large) dearly.”

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Probaby not too important from Oracle's point of view

Google...do no evil......well try not too do evil

Oracle.....evil? sure why not I want to be the richest person on the planet then people might actually think I am a smart person. It really annoys me that people think Bill G is smart.

I am Oracle and I know everything. I don't care if you dont like me i owe more things than I will ever need. No one off fixes for those itanium customers. f them

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Headmaster

Re: Probaby not too important from Oracle's point of view

"Before this trial started, it had already become crystal clear that the copyright part of the case was going to be the important one"

Is this a reversing bicycle I see before me, the handles towards my hand? Come, let me clutch at straws. FUD, I have thee not, and yet I pursue thee still. Art thou not, fatal logic, nonsensical to feeling as to sight, or art thou but the propaganda of a shill, a false creation, proceeding from the patent-troll's brain?

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Re: Probaby not too important from Oracle's point of view

""Before this trial started, it had already become crystal clear that the copyright part of the case was going to be the important one, not the patents"

By the time the *trial* started it had become obvious the patent case was already lost, with 5 already invalidated, 1 provisionally invalid, 1 remaining. Those 7 patents were the 7 strongest cherry picked from the 50 odd patents Oracle started with. Given the blatant bullshit Oracle had its experts spew in the patent phase they had to know they were fscked. BS so wrong it made the bollocks Google also issued actually look correct.

So of course the copyright addon became the significant issue, the patent case fell apart.

But remember: the copyright claims were promoted largely *because* the patent claim evaporated long before reaching trial. No deliberate choice, no actual confidence outside BS&F the claims were valid, just reaction to a collapsing case.

Based on past observation David Boies brought it ready made (it's the SCO casework) and the patent claims were then little more than an excuse to dive into Google internal documents trying to fake up infringement. Infringement they couldn't even fabricate this time, unlike their careful rearrangement of Linux source code in the SCO debacle.

This started when Steve Jobs issued threats of a cabal of patent holders preparing to sue Android into oblivion. Whether Larry Ellison was part of that conspiracy or just jumped on the bandwagon hardly matters. They decided to hit Google+Android and didn't let the facts interfere with the plan.

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@Turtle: I guess you missed the IMPORTANT bit in the linked article.

You know, the paragraph where the jury foreman admitted that having decided that there was no Fair Use argument, he was only able to browbeat two additional jurors into agreeing with him. I mean you already missed the even more important bit that the judge told them to assume something he hadn't ruled about yet, so why would a minor detail like that get your attention.

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FAIL

woot

Good guys win!! No sorry, less evil company is some ways wins.

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This post has been deleted by its author

FAIL

100% record

Has Florian Mueller ever been right about anything?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 100% record

> Has Florian Mueller ever been right about anything?

It depends. Florian Mueller only writes whatever Oracle or Microsoft tell him to. They aslo pay him as a "consultant". So, in a way, he's always right.

</sarcasm>

And now, let's all watch the Oracle bots coming out in droves, spinning this unmitigated disaster as a "win against Java fragmentation" and such.

Note about copyright infringement: if there is no fair use determination (and there isn't one, since the jury deadlocked on this very question), there can be no damages.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 100% record

Maybe El Reg could ask the yoghurty one about how he got it so badly wrong....

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Huh?

Who's this Florian Mueller guy? No, really. Never heard of him before, yet it seems he has some infamy attached to him....

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Megaphone

Re: Huh?

A geezer with some legal knowledge but no credibility, as he is employed by Microsoft and Oracle to only say what they want him to say.

Paid legal mouthpiece in short.

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Happy

Common sense prevails somewhere in the US legal system at last!

Who'd have thought it !

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Common sense prevails somewhere in the US legal system at last!

I was about to say the exact same thing.

Sanity ? That's fishy!

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Unhappy

Re: Common sense prevails somewhere in the US legal system at last!

Don't get too excited. Given the companies and financial resources available to them for this case, this one ain't gonna be over until the Fat Ladies all the way at the top of the court system sing.

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Anonymous Coward

The BBC as ever has got wrong

they are already suggesting that Google has be found guilty of breaching copyright with regard to APIs even before this has been determined.

Perhaps they know something we don't?

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Childcatcher

Re: The BBC as ever has got wrong

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, that the MSBBC would demonstrate such bias.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The BBC as ever has got wrong

"Perhaps they know something we don't?"

After seeing a map of the UK with a country labelled as "Northern Island" appear on the BBC news a few nights ago, I wouldn't count on them knowing much at all.

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Re: The BBC as ever has got wrong

I read the first half dozen links on that blog. The guy is deluded, irrational and just wrong. Sign him up for the tin foil hat.

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Re: The BBC as ever has got wrong

Unless I have missed something, Google HAS been found guilty of copright infringement by the jury over the APIs.

The caveat, of course, is that;

a) the jury could not decide whether they amount to fair use, and

b) the judge still needs to decide whether the copyright is valid (i.e. whether you can copright APIs).

So, technically, the BBC is correct. The descision could be overruled by the judge, though. Even if APIs are found to be copyrightable, Google will go for a mistrial (or something, IANAL) because they need an answer to whether the infringement was fair use.

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Re: The BBC as ever has got wrong

Rather than just downvoting me for this, could someone please explain what I have got wrong?

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Re: The BBC as ever has got wrong

The jury was required to assume that APIs can be copyrighted, and were then asked to decide if Google's copying of the API infringed this hypothetical copyright. Given the judge's instruction, and the fact that nobody denies that Google "copied"(parts of) the Java API (by way of Harmony), the jury had no choice but to find that the Google would be guilty of copyright infringement if the API was subject to copyright. No evidence was offered to the contrary, as nobody except Oracle appears to think that there is a problem in copying an API. Members of the jury are now on record as saying that the felt the judge's instruction and the wording of the question meant only one answer was possible. It was a kind of a pointless question ("assuming black is white, is white also black?"), unless it was a legal manouver by the judge to reduce grounds for appeal by either party.

Although it is now moot, the patent case could also be said to be hypothetical, given that the jury was being asked to decide on infringement of patents that the USPTO has decided are invalid, subject to appeal, but were not aware of the disputed state of the patent claims -- e.g. dereferencing a symbolic reference at run-time and caching the result is surely an obvious trick to those skilled in the art (and whoever wrote the patent missed an obvious patent attorney trick of generalising the claim so that it covered all forms of dereferencing at all stages, which could have allowed Oracle to prevail, at least until the patent was formally annulled.).

On the question of whether the copying could be deemed fair use, the jury was split 9-3 in favour of a finding of fair use. The chair of the jury admits to taking Oracle's side, and trying to swing the rest his way. On the fair use question he managed to persuade two others to adopt his position (if weakly), so there was no agreement. In all cases the others prevailed.

There are US precedents that suggest APIs are not copyrightable, and also that copying for interoperability is fair use.

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Re: copying for interoperability is fair use

I think this is Googles weakest defence. Interoperability exceptions were meant to prevent product lockin, by letting programmers create interoperable programs and components end users rights are protected. In Android the interoperability with the Java stack is partial and more about leveraging programmers experience than preventing lockin (or lock out).

Alsup asked questions that suggest he's not convinced by the argument. Although it ultimately didn't convince the jury Oracles incessant whining about 'fragmenting Java' has some truth - if you don't supply the whole environment how can you claim interoperability as a defence?

I expect when Alsup finally rules it won't be the blanket 'APIs aren't copyrightable' most expect. A precedent that confirms this as a matter of fact for a jury decide seems plausible.

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Happy

Call me happy

lusa turtle florian larry whatever. I smell beelions and beelions and beelions, like yaaaa. My day has been one of joy and happiness, A win on copyright? you joke. ROFL. Oracle lost. Even I could just about stomp up whatever Google will be slapped with. Put that in yer pipe but don't smoke it you might get cancer.

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Re: Call me happy

...Gavin?

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Limited to $150K

> damages in the separate copyright suit are limited to $150,000

I hope that all the lawyers fees have to come out of that.

They probably expect to earn those numbers before breakfast :-)

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Childcatcher

Incomplete

"Oracle hinted at an appeal, saying it will “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.""

...said an Oracle spokesperson, before cackling loudly, swooping their cape and disappearing in a puff of smoke.

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Did they learn nothing?

Oracle's statement suggest they don't even understand what the trial they just took a pasting in was about. The trial was about copyright on a few files, and about a couple of claims in two patents. NOTHING to do with Java vs Android. Oracle deliberately limited the copyright part to those few files so that the copying would pass the 'de minimis' threshold - the Jury was 9-3 in Google's favour of ruling for copyright fair use as it was - if Oracle had made it Java vs Android then the Jury would have laughed Oracle out of court. This is actually a humiliation for Oracle. How many millions did they just flush down the toilet I wonder?

I think this shows you can defeat the patent trolls if you have enough money to defend yourself. Congrats Google, I suspect it would have been cheaper to settle, but wiping the floor with Oracle in this way is priceless.

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"I suspect it would have been cheaper to settle"

The licence Sun wanted to offer was worthless for Android, far from saving Google time and money it would have crippled Android - they'd have ended up rewriting most of it in some other language and just bolting a worthless Java module in.

...but let's pretend they could have got a licence worth having. Given the amount Google offered Sun for the licence they wanted that's probably more than they spent on this case. In BS&Fs previous copyright crusade (SCO vs IMB,HP,Linux) they successfully ran up huge discovery costs for IBM, that didn't happen this time. A combination of there being less to discover in a younger product/company and not having an idiot judge prepared to impose ridiculous burdens on the defendant. And perhaps having learned from BS&Fs previous outrageous abuse of process ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "I suspect it would have been cheaper to settle"

You might be surprised, I was. Google offered $2.8 million dollars for the patents. Oracle's costs are estimated up to $40M so wouldn't Google's be similar? (You need to read this article carefully esp. the last paragraph to work out what the est. costs are):

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/oracles-google-android-patent-lawsuit-cut-down-to-size/10646

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "I suspect it would have been cheaper to settle"

As for the $2.8 million, it needs to be noted that this was not an offer to settle. Instead this was the amount Google offered to pay for a license if and only if the patents were declared valid and infringement would be proven.

Oracle declined, hoping to get billions awarded by the court.

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Re: "I suspect it would have been cheaper to settle"

One of life's great truisms is that by the time any issue goes to court, both plaintiff and defendant have already lost. All they are fighting over are the scraps that remain. The only people who come out with more money than they went in with are the lawyers [includes the judge(s) hearing the trial].

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "I suspect it would have been cheaper to settle"

Hmmmm ... paid by Oracle?

In the US, Federal judges are salaried employees. I don't know where you got the idea that a judge's take-home pay depends on the outcome of any particular lawsuit. It most certainly does not. Actually, if that ever were to be true, that judge would be impeached, removed from the bench, and would probably end up serving jail time.

David Boies probably made a lot of money with this lawsuit. Tell that to Larry Ellison and Safra Catz. They fell for his pitch. Boies' track record in handling the SCO vs. IBM Linux lawsuit should have been a warning.

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@mpup

The arithmetic's not quite that simple. Googles lowest licence offer was $30mil+other goodies, if Sun had asked for 50 or possibly even $100mil for the terms Google wanted they'd have got it.

Google would save money (not needing Dalvik, not having to subset Harmony) but would still end up paying as much to overlay Android over J2SE as over Harmony. J2SE is better for smartphones than ME but still not mobile ready. The major advantage would be launching with a mature, optimising JVM. Well, they launched quickly enough anyway and the poor initial Dalvik performance hasn't hurt sales visibly. I think the cost/benefit totals closer than you think, but that's just an opinion ;)

The price of a licence you can't buy is irrelevant though. We now know the price of the terms Google *needed* was $7.4bil+ in a bidding war to buy Sun. About $6bil of that for Java IP it appears is worth much less following this trip to court!

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Re: "I suspect it would have been cheaper to settle"

Maybe that's why they hired him?

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h3
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The Major advantage they would have had at the start would have been using jezelle instead of a jit compiler.

If API's can be copyrighted then Oracle could potentially go after anyone using C.

(Sun's joint development of SYSV with AT&T means they have the best UNIX license anyone does better even than what was sold to Novell).

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Facepalm

Wait... wha...?!

'...while Oracle hinted at an appeal, saying it will “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 are doing this for the Java developing community...? Did anyone from the Java developing community request this or perhaps tell Oracle "No, really, it's fine, you don't have to...."

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Thumb Up

More gems from Mr. Yoghurt on the strengths of Oracle's patents case

As pointed out by Tim Bray:

http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/201x/2012/05/23/Florian

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Anonymous Coward

Foreman explains he was defending one side...

...Mentions in the same breath he'll be looking for a job soon....

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