Oracle v. Google: Retrial possible after latest circuit court ruling

Oracle v. Google: Retrial possible after latest circuit court ruling

Summary: Based on where this goes next, a retrial in California or an appeal pushed all the way to the Supreme Court are both possible.


With every twist and turn, the ongoing legal battle of Oracle v. Google increasingly resembles a game of Choose Your Own Adventure -- one that never ends.

Reporters in attendance at a hearing at the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit suggested via Twitter this week that based on the panel's skepticism of Judge William Alsup's previous rulings, a retrial is possible.

More specifically, the panel appears to disagree with Judge Alsup over what constitutes "fair use" and how that was applied to the patents and copyrights at the crux of this case.

To recall, Oracle first sued Google in 2010 over copyright infringement related to the use of 37 Java APIs used on the Android mobile operating system.

Google retorted that the patents in question were free to use because the Java programming language is free to use, and the APIs are required to use the language. Oracle argued that Google had knowingly used the APIs without a license from Sun Microsystems, which was bought by Oracle in 2010.

In spring 2012, a federal jury at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco sided with Google on nearly all of the copyright claims as well as on all of the patent disputes.

Regardless, Oracle moved forward on an appeal after a federal judge rejected the Java owner's motion for a new trial. The two parties also met several times last summer to discuss damages.

In one instance, at a case management hearing in June, Oracle's legal team explained that it filed a stipulation in which Google was asked to pay $0 in statutory damages (in reference to the nine lines of code in the rangeCheck method and the test files) in order to move proceedings along faster as it works toward an appeal.

Movement in the case has slowed down considerably in the last year up until this point.

In February, it was reported that legal representatives for Microsoft told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that it would support Oracle. Such a move would seemingly line up with Microsoft's other patent-related lawsuits against Motorola Mobility, now a Google subsidiary.

In an email on Wednesday, FOSS Patents blogger Florian Mueller further theorized that Google could petition for a rehearing en banc and appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

But at some point, he continued, if a settlement isn't possible, then a retrial at the United States District Court in the Northern District of California is probable.

Topics: Legal, Google, Oracle, Patents, Web development

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  • Here's another theory for you.

    The theory is:
    "Florian Mueller, who is not a lawyer (patent or otherwise), and who also appeared on Oracle's list of bloggers to whom they had paid money, is spewing forth in the Internet again now that Groklaw is no longer around to provide an accurate counter-analysis."

    Judge Alsup asked both Oracle and Google to list the bloggers whom they'd paid money to, if you recall.
    • And if you recall

      Oracle disclosed Florian as the only blogger is had paid, while Google refused to disclose it's paid shills, er, bloggers, including the one on this site.
      • You're claiming that Google "refused"?

        I had no idea that lawyers could "refuse" to answer questions from the Judge like that....
        • You may lack ideas not imagination

          You imagined that it was the Judge Alsup asked Oracle & Google. It was Oracle who offered this information voluntarily & asked the Judge to request Google to do the same, which Google promptly refused.
          • Oh really? Where did you get that idea from?


            Groklaw has the order right here:

            I imagined nothing.
          • Where is the contempt citation?

            Judges have ways of punishing people who disobey orders.
            John L. Ries
          • Except that Groklaw also has Google's reply.

            Right here:

            "Neither Google nor its counsel has paid an author, journalist, commentator or blogger to report or comment on any issues in this case. And neither Google nor its counsel has been involved in any 'quid pro quo' in exchange for coverage of or articles about the issues in this case."

            If mm71 has a single shred of evidence that this declaration may be false then perhaps s/he could present it? But I'm not going to hold my breath waiting...
    • NOBODY

      in the world considers Mueller anything more than a paid mouthpiece for corrupt M$ and Oracle. I would be surprised not to hear that he "blogs" for Apple too. No, actually I wouldn't.

      You lose cred simply by quoting him.
  • Of course Microsoft sides with Oracle

    Of course Microsoft sides with Oracle. A case that set a precedent whereby code could be released as "open source" and then, sometime down the line, when someone actually does something useful with it, the author could turn around and claim that "now it's proprietary and you owe me money" would basically destroy the Open Source movement forever.
  • Larry and Steve

    The Apache Software Foundation's Harmony project is where the clean room implementation of Java took place and it is no longer (as Larry and IBM well know):

    In it's own words, "Apache Harmony is retired at the Apache Software Foundation since Nov 16, 2011. For more information please refer to the Apache Attic."

    Time to move on ... or is it?

    Apparently, Harmony lives on at Google (see the last sentence in the linked article):

    Finally if Apache Harmony's clean room implementation of Java was flawed, why not go after The Apache Software Foundation and IBM, the "primary corporate sponsor" of Harmony?
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Harmony and the Java Community Process

      Well, if they brought up Harmony, Oracle(SUN) would also open the door for others to bring up the Java Community Process and perhaps be forced to admit how long they knew of Harmony, sat across a table from members of that community and basically sat on their hands and did nothing.

      Estoppel, anyone?
  • The matter

    API's is easy to make, but that is not the matter, the one that made them first deserves the copyright, and the other ones should pay tribute. Google has grown vastly in its 15 years of life thanks to that it has used in its products ideas of others.
    luis river
    • APIs are not copyrightable

      An API is purely functional and so does not "deserve" copyright at all. And since Sun had already released Java under an Open Source licence there is *no way* that Oracle can now expect people to bow down before it and "pay tribute"!

      "Google has grown vastly in its 15 years of life thanks to that it has used in its products ideas of others."

      Ideas can't be copyrighted anyway, but putting that aside: so long as Google respected the licence Java was released under then your envy over Google's growth is irrelevant.
      • The judge ruled

        If it was API's so undoubtedly they don't have copyright a while ago that this trial had concluded. The ideas sustain their value through the patents and the justice should protect them of undue use without economic compensation
        luis river
        • The Judge has ruled - for Google and against Oracle.

          Therefore I don't see how you can justify using the word "should" here. (That's a "preacher" word anyway... ;-)) "You wish" that APIs could be copyrighted, perhaps?

          I am having difficulty extracting your meaning from the rest of your post.
  • By god I hope everyone here has looked at those 9 lines of code

    It would be like claiming infringement for a single sentence in an encyclopedia. You have read the code right? Right? Microsoft good god this is in public it can destroy confidence in your emmm ammm wellll product if it confirms the advanced state of decay at Zombie errr Microsoft yea Head (brains) quarters. Hello is anybody out there?
    • Oracle doesn't only claim those 9 lines of actual code.

      It's also trying to claim ownership over the Java API intelf.
      • s/intelf/itself/

        *sigh* My coffee levels are running low...
      • Yea

        I copyright the for and or now every english speaking person owes me billions each! PAY UP !!!! WAAAAA
  • Are email addresses copyrighted?

    What about mailing addresses?

    Because if they are I'm going to make a fortune off of Amazon using mine.