Oracle wins on infringement; jury stuck on Google's fair use argument

Oracle wins on infringement; jury stuck on Google's fair use argument

Summary: After deliberating for a week, the jury has returned with an initial verdict covering the copyrights portion of the Oracle-Google trial.

TOPICS: Oracle, Google

SAN FRANCISCO -- Although the results were a bit of a mixed bag, the jury in Oracle v. Google ruled mainly in favor of Oracle in the copyright phase of the trial on Monday morning.

The five male and seven female jurors were unanimous in their answers to nearly all of the four detailed questions (see the questions and jury instructions below) supplied by Judge William Alsup to determine whether Google's Android mobile platform infringed on part of the Java programming language that Oracle acquired from Sun in 2010.

See alsoE.U. court rules programming languages not copyrightable Oracle-Google jury deliberations placed on temporary hold

Arguably, the most important question was the first one. To the question, "Has Oracle proven that Google has infringed the overall structure, sequence and organization of copyrighted works?," the jury said yes.

However, the jury was at an impasse on the second part of Question 1, which asked if Google proved fair use or not. Thus, Google counsel Robert Van Nest immediately moved for a mistrial on the copyright phase of the trial, citing precedent cases.

Google will make arguments for a mistrial on Tuesday and Thursday this week. Any debate over whether or not Google proved fair use must be answered before the damages can be determined. Furthermore, the judge still needs to determine whether or not APIs are copyrightable, based on the advice offered from the jury.

Google also issued the following initial statement immediately after the verdict was read:

We appreciate the jury's efforts, and know that fair use and infringement are two sides of the same coin. The core issue is whether the APIs here are copyrightable, and that's for the court to decide. We expect to prevail on this issue and Oracle's other claims.

Oracle PR replied with these prepared remarks:

Oracle, the nine million Java developers, and the entire Java community thank the jury for their verdict in this phase of the case. The overwhelming evidence demonstrated that Google knew it needed a license and that its unauthorized fork of Java in Android shattered Java's central write once run anywhere principle. Every major commercial enterprise -- except Google -- has a license for Java and maintains compatibility to run across all computing platforms.

The decision came after the jury almost delivered a partial verdict on Friday afternoon last week. They were unable to agree unanimously on one of the four questions in the jury instructions.

At issue in this phase of the trial was whether 37 Java APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) were subject to copyright. Oracle argued that Google copied the APIs from the Java core libraries, which would render 11,000 printed pages on the specifications, into the Android core libraries.

Oracle's lawyers compared the creation of APIs to writing a piece of music, going further to say that API's are not just "ideas," but creative works that requires significant expertise and time.

Google argued that there was no copyright infringement because Google didn't copy any unauthorized Java code, and that the Internet giant made fair use of the Java language APIs in Android and that Sun publicly approved Android's use of Java.

The jury began deliberating one week ago after lawyers from both Oracle and Google offered their closing statements for the first segment of this trial.

Four days later on Thursday afternoon, the jury returned with the eighth note issued during the deliberation period, which asked, “What happens if we can’t reach a unanimous decision and people are not budging?”

On Friday morning, Alsup asked attorneys from both Oracle and Google for their thoughts about where to proceed from here. While neither side was entirely in favor of a partial verdict, Oracle's lawyer Michael Jacobs acknowledged that could be a potential path. Robert Van Nest, Google's lead attorney, was resolutely against the idea, preferring a completely unanimous verdict or a mistrial for the copyrights segment of the case.

Nevertheless later that day, the 12-person jury sent a note revealing that they had come to a unanimous decision on all questions except one on which they were at an "impasse." Van Nest then concurred with Jacobs and Alsup to move the case along and hear the partial verdict.

The jury came close to revealing that partial verdict -- until the jury foreman acknowledged that only a majority of the jurors agreed to send that note while a few others remained on the fence, convinced that it might be still possible to vote again and achieve a unanimous vote by Monday. Alsup gave the jury the weekend to think about the impasse over one of the questions in hope of avoiding a partial verdict on Monday.

Without even a recess, Alsup sped proceedings along on Monday by moving on to the next phase of the trial, which will consider whether Google violated two patents associated with Java.

Below are the four questions that the jury had to answer in coming to its verdict. The jury's answers are highlighted in bold.

1. As to the compilable code for the 37 Java API packages in question taken as a group:

A. Has Oracle proven that Google has infringed the overall structure, sequence and organization of copyrighted works?

YES __________ No __________


B. Has Google proven that its use of the overall structure, sequence and organization constituted "fair use"?

Yes __________ No __________

2. As to the documentation for the 37 Java API packages in question taken as a group:

A. Has Oracle proven that Google has infringed?

Yes __________ NO __________


B. Has Google proven that its use of Oracle's Java documentation constituted "fair use"?

Yes __________ No __________

3. Has Oracle proven that Google's conceded use of the following was infringing, the only issue being whether such use was de minimis:

A. The rangeCheck method in and ComparableTimSort.Java

(Infringing) (Not Infringing)

YES __________ No __________

B. Source code in seven "" files and the one "ACL" file

(Infringing) (Not Infringing)

Yes __________ NO __________

C. The English-language comments in and

(Infringing) (Not Infringing)

Yes __________ NO __________

4. Answer the following special interrogatories only if you answer "yes" to Question 1A.

A. Has Google proven that Sun and/or Oracle engaged in conduct Sun and/or Oracle knew or should have known would reasonably lead Google to believe that it would not need a license to use the structure, sequence, and organization of the copyrighted compilable code?

YES __________ No __________

B. If so, has Google proven that it in fact reasonably relied on such conduct by Sun and/or Oracle in deciding to use the structure, sequence, and organization of the copyrighted compilable code without obtaining a license?

Yes __________ NO __________

Your answers to Questions 4A and 4B will be used by the judge with issues he must decide. Questions 4A and 4B do not bear on the issues you must decide on Questions 1 to 3.


Topics: Oracle, Google

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  • bad verdict!

    The FOSS community is outraged over this great disservice done by an incompetent
    jury and facilitated by wrong instructions from the judge.

    This process is a shameless shakedown and the justice should quickly wash the
    shame brought to us and Google's reputation!

    Such a immoral verdict can not stand and must be overthrown on appeal!
    Oracle can not be allowed to rob the FOSS community!

    Better yet, a retrial is the best solution to this mess
    instigated by the legal goons at oracle.
    The Linux Geek
    • Unfortunately the Judge is a civilian as well.

      Plenty opportunities for the appeal of the bad parts.
    • Calm down, count to 10 and then read the Groklaw article.

      It's actually not so bad for Google at all...
      • Don't worry.

        Groklaw will spin this as a major win for Google. Groklaw is even more biased than FOSSPatents.
      • Google should have been exonerated

        of all wrongdoing to mute Oracle FUD machine!
        The Linux Geek
      • You are welcome to explain exactly what Oracle has "won" here.

        Question 1A means nothing unless the Judge also extends copyright law to cover APIs.
      • Not only is it not bad for Google...

        Not only is it not bad for Google, but it could actually be the deciding factor in a win. A mistrial gives them a redo against Oracle, who while it may give them the opportunity to role additional patents into the case, also has to deal with Google shoring up arguments that can pull from the recent EU decision as well. EU and US law are separate, but very similar. One can assume using the ladder as a template will make much more effective arguments and that it will be harder to get an impartial jury if they are at all technologically informed.
    • Back to the fry station...

      leave this to the big boys.
  • What are you talking about? This is an infringement without teeth.

    API's cannot and should not be copyrightable. The result is de minimis and fair use that the civilian jury couldn't get. It's a good thing to have the jurors look into the weeds and this is a good foundation for the next phase. Best they could do under the circumstances.
  • It's actually a WIN for Google, though.

    The Judge instructed the jury to consider APIs copyrightable in their deliberations, although he would decide whether they actually [i]are[/i] copyrightable later. ("Judical economy", I believe...). So "yes", the jury decided the APIs had been copied, but they were unable to decide whether that was "fair use".

    For questions 2 and 3, the jury found for Google, with the exception of those [b]9 whole lines[/b] which Google had owned up to.

    The answers to questions 4a and 4b were "yes" and "no" respectively.

    Groklaw has more detailed information.
    • No sale

      Oracle hasn't won any actual money yet so this victory that Mueller is happy to chirp about is anything but damaging to Oracle. Oracle will appeal this no-reward decision.
  • I think the Jury was right.

    Google did copy the Java structure and API's but neither side could prove if they were or weren't covered under fair use.
  • mainly in favor of Oracle?

    I love the twist you guys put on these things. Of course the jury said that Google infringed; Google admitted to copying the SSO and the Judge instructed the jury that SSO is copyrightable. The second part of that question is by far the more important of the two. You also don't mention that the Judge, not the Jury will ultimately decide as to whether APIs are, as a fact of law, copyrightable. If he decides they are not copyrightable (as the the entire world has assumed up until now) the answer to question 1 is moot.
  • Oracle win?

    I don't see it. They win some, loose some. Hundreds of millions in compensation- I don't think so... I doubt they will recover even the lawyers' fees.
    • oracle can spread FUD now

      this is what they won.
      The Linux Geek
  • Yahoo article says damages might not add up to much...

    from the article: "The jury also found that Google infringed on Oracle's copyright on nine lines of Java code that is in Android, but Oracle can only go after statutory damages on that one. Those damages can range from $200 to $150,000.".

    That covers about 1 hour of the lawyers.
    • My opinion on the 9 lines

      Is that it was a mistake (inadvertent error) which has since been corrected. The rest is just the silliness of following the current copyright law to the letter without sufficient authority (Judge) or nerve(civilians) to overrule.
    • Damages question from

      "The judge has stated, pending judgment as a matter of law, that there is "zero finding of copyright liability" other than the 9 lines of code to which Oracle's damages report attributes no value." AND When asked for damages for the 9 lines by Oracle Deboies, judge said "bordering on the ridiculous." I'm really liking this judge right about now.
  • Oracle PR BS

    So Oracle (in their PR announcement) claims to speak for the 9 million java developers, and the "entire java community"? Bullshit. They certainly don't speak for me.

    It would be interesting to poll said 9 million. I'll bet at least 2/3 would disagree with Oracle.

    Lies, lies, and more lies.
  • Simple Solution...

    Get Android out of Java.. and into C# Would be faster, and no Oracle issue.. and I don't believe a Microsoft one either.