Although the two were supposed to kick off their anticipated trial on Halloween, Oracle and Google will have to wait for proceedings to really begin until 2012.
Google petitioned U.S. Federal Judge William Alsup on October 25 to answer a trio of questions, mostly focusing on which of the "literal and non-literal" elements surrounding Android and Java that Oracle is specifically claiming were examples of patent infringement.
Judge Alsup answered the letter on October 26 with the announcement that "the trial will not be in 2011," but when it does happen, the jury trial will be broken down into three phases -- all before the same jury -- as follows:
Phase one. Liability on the copyright claims, including all defenses thereto, will be tried and determined by special verdict before going to Phase Two.
Phase Two. Liability on the patent claims, including all defenses for the jury. The jury will decide these issues before going to Phase Three.
Phase Three. All remaining issues will be tried, including damages and willfulness.
The plaintiff and defendant have until Friday, November 18 to critique to this plan.
Oracle and Google have been in engaged in a heated legal battle over whether or not Android infringes upon Java patents, which are now owned by Oracle since it bought Sun Microsystems last year. However, during hearings in the last few months, Oracle has wavered on which patents it is including in the case.
In September, Judge Alsup called in Oracle and Google's respective CEOs, Larry Ellison and Larry Page, to try to settle the matter before going to trial. The most that came out of that, it would appear, is that Oracle has decided that it wants $1.16 billion in damages.
FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller posits that while Google might have won today's battle, Oracle could still win the war:
The trial plan the judge proposed today favors Google, but the reason the judge decided to do this may be that he still believes (as he indicated on previous occasions) that Google is on the losing track, so he may just want to reduce the degree of certainty on Oracle's part in order to increase the likelihood of a settlement. But just like all of Judge Alsup's previous tactical games failed to bring about a settlement, I'm skeptical it will work this time. I think the most likely course of action is that we will at least see a copyright trial.