Jury clears Google of infringing on Oracle patents

A jury has found that Google did not infringe upon Oracle's patents.
Written by Josh Lowensohn, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO -- A jury today unanimously decided that Google did not infringe on two of Oracle's patents.

In a unanimous decision at the U.S. District Court of Northern California this morning, the jury in the trial said Google did not infringe on six claims in ">U.S. Patent RE38,104 as well as two claims in U.S. Patent number 6,061,520.

The verdict is a win for Google, and marks the end of the trial's second phase, which focused on the claims of patent infringement. Closing arguments in the case were made last week.

Following the verdict, Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court of Northern California dismissed the jurors, while noting that it was the longest civil trial he had been a part of. Alsup also noted that he'd be deciding in a related copyright issue within the case next week.

Today's proceedings began much like they did earlier in the week, with a technical question from the jury about an Oracle patent.

In particular, the jury wanted to know the legal interpretation of the words "simulating execution of the code," made within U.S. Patent No. 6,061,520, one of seven Oracle patents named in the original suit that covers "method and system for performing static initialization."

Judge Alsup asked Oracle's counsel to answer that question, which led to Oracle's counsel asking for a five minute huddle with Google's legal team to hammer out an answer.

When Judge Alsup returned, the two sides suggested that the jury might have been referring to one of two claims made within different sections of the patent. Alsup concurred, and brought the jury back into the courtroom to lay out how the question could reference either claim 1 or claim 20 from the patent, and how it needed to be more specific when asking such questions, adding that he wasn't "100 percent sure" he had answered their original query.

Nonetheless, Judge Alsup said that the jury was "right on target" for asking the meaning of the phrase because it was a legal question. He then sent the jury back to deliberations and said they were welcome to submit additional queries. A verdict arrived approximately a half an hour later.

The questions were the latest from jurors about the linguistical complexity found in Oracle's patents. Earlier this week, jurors asked similar technical question about U.S. Patent No. RE38,104, and before that it was terminology and differences in U.S. Patent No. 6,061,520. That included a re-reading of transcripts of court testimony.

Oracle sued Google in 2010, alleging that Google's Android operating system infringed on a Java patent acquired with the purchase of Sun Microsystems. Google responded by claiming the Android team was unaware of Sun's patents ahead of the suit, and that its OS was free to use.

The proceedings will resume on Tuesday morning next week, following a break for the Memorial Day holiday.

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About Josh Lowensohn

Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and covers everything Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about new Web startups, video games, and remote-controlled robots that watch your house.

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