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

Based on where this goes next, a retrial in California or an appeal pushed all the way to the Supreme Court are both possible.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

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.

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