Oracle-Google trial gets messier ahead of damages phase

Oracle-Google trial gets messier ahead of damages phase

Summary: Oracle and Google want to address willfulness to infringe now in order to get around messier issues in phase three -- or possibly to avoid a third phase altogether.

TOPICS: Oracle, Google

SAN FRANCISCO -- Over the weekend, attorneys for both Oracle and Google filed several motions that could either speed up the case at the U.S. District Court of Northern California or plunge it into a much longer, messier trial.

See alsoApple given go-ahead to seek Samsung tablet ban in U.S.

One of the more noteworthy points was to move the debate of patent infringement willfulness into the second phase of the trial going on right now. Interestingly, this looks like one area where both sides of the courtroom appeared to agree -- at least when it comes to timing.

A long story short: The court will address the issue of direct willfulness now before the third phase of the trial can begin, which would focus on damages.

The necessity and timing of the third phase depends on a number of factors. For one, copyright infringement is still a complicated issue. Although the jury returned a partial verdict last week that acknowledged Google infringed upon Oracle's intellectual property and copied the nine lines of code in the rangeCheck method, the jury was unable to agree upon whether or not Google's fair use argument was valid.

Among other nitty-gritty details, Judge William Alsup still needs to determine whether or not the 37 Java APIs are even copyrightable in the first place. Furthermore, the jury needs to deliberate over whether or not Google is guilty of patent infringement on two patents related to the Java Virtual Machine.

Through a separate motion, Oracle also tried to get the damages phase postponed altogether with a new jury onboard too. Alsup rejected this.

Oracle is arguing that it does have evidence to prove direct willfulness for patent infringement, mostly based upon the testimony of Google's senior vice president of mobile Andy Rubin as well as emails from Google engineer Tim Lindholm -- both of whom have played pivotal roles throughout this trial.

If Oracle could prove that Google willfully infringed upon its patents, that could significantly boost how much it could receive financially in damages. However, Google's stance here is that Oracle can't prove it. Google's central argument all along has been that Android and the Dalvik Virtual Machine it runs on was developed without any knowledge of Sun Microsystems's patent portfolio.

On the Lindholm emails, Alsup looked skeptical on Monday morning, telling Oracle counsel Michael Jacobs that the emails don't specifically address the U.S. Reissue No. 38,104 patent or U.S. Patent No. 6,061,520.

"I bet you Mr. Lindholm never heard of those two patents," Alsup added.

Another sticking point here is validity. The '104 patent has been reissued twice, which is partially why Google has continued to challenge its validity. However, Jacobs reminded the court that validity was previously ruled as irrelevant in this case. Interestingly, the jury knows nothing about the validity question.

In the end, Alsup ruled that willfulness will be addressed in phase two. The catch is that the matter of willfulness is only relevant up until when the lawsuit was filed in July 2010. Nothing else after that can be taken into consideration.

"This is going to be a mess if we get into post-complaint. So no post-complaint, period," Alsup explained. "We'll craft a sentence in jury instructions not to speculate about events that occurred after filing of the complaint."

Alsup also reasserted his belief that we will move into phase three if liability is established for either of the patents -- or at the very least to address the decompiled code and rangeCheck matters from phase one.

However, the 37 Java APIs will not be addressed in phase three as Alsup quickly followed up by saying "we're not going to have a damages phase on the main copyright issue because that hasn't been established yet."

The judge also reiterated his lack of faith in Oracle's decision to go after infringer's profits instead of statutory damages, this time exclaiming that the idea of getting billions or hundreds of millions of dollars for nine lines of code is a "hyper-extreme proposition."

Oracle and Google will deliver their closing statements for the patent phase of the trial on Tuesday. After that, the jury will go back into deliberation mode.


Topics: Oracle, Google

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  • Does Oracle still have the Developers Department?

    Or it has been replaced by the Law Department altogether?
  • Oracle failed again to out-lawyer google

    and their case has been unraveling since the copyright verdict!
    It's time for Elli$on to go back home, or on his yacht!
    The Linux Geek
  • Good luck getting much damages for those test files.

    The jury has already deemed those decompiled files to be "fair use". I can't see why they should suddenly decide that they are now worth mega-bucks in damages.
    • Did you miss the jury being overuled?

      The judge overruled them

      Now for a question which I don't know the answer to, those test files are GPL licensed is GPL viral enough that those test files infect the main code base of android?

      Thats a question to which I have no idea what the answer is

      Also why does Rachel King think that Oracle aren't just looking for a profits verdict to then go after Samsung? That's the strategy here get what you can with a judgment on the record and then repeat to every Android vendor
      • No, I didn't miss that. But so what?

        If the jury hadn't been overruled, there'd be no question of damages for those test files in the first place, silly. But the jury [i]still[/i] was not impressed by the significance of those test files. If damages are up to the jury, why should they be remotely generous?

        [quote]Now for a question which I don't know the answer to, those test files are GPL licensed is GPL viral enough that those test files infect the main code base of android?[/quote]
        In such cases, you can comply with the GPL by taking the GPL code [b]out[/b]. And being mere test files, they can be dropped without a moment's hesitation. (In fact, I strongly suspect they already have been...)
  • Jacobs tries a stab at set theory and fails!

    Geez, I wish these guys would just stick to lawyering. Heck, some of the PhDs can't get it right. Sure is a mess. How in the world are civilians supposed to make sense of this stuff?
  • Be Careful, Be Creative

    I wrote a blog based on this piece of news. Check it out.
  • Oracle is ridiculous!

    They know they don't have much of a chance of even making up for the money they've spent on this trial. Smart people would cut their losses & move on.
  • Still wondering

    Why people believe Oracle are after damage money from Google. All they need is for the court to establish Android contains their IPR and infringes on their patents etc. Then they will go after each and every Android vendor, and ask for royalties. Just like Microsoft does.

    The don't have to get any money out of Google for this infringement. The most weird thing is, that Google is apparently aware of all this an dare happy to go that way...
    • The only things wrong with your logic are this.

      Test files are not distributed AND rangeCheck() is no longer there AND judge says "height of ridiculous". Other than that your argument holds. Any other ideas?