Oracle Wins Partial Victory Against Google In Copyright Infringement Case

After a weekend deliberation, a federal jury in San Francisco handed Oracle a partial victory by finding Google guilty of copyright infringement yet remaining deadlocked on whether Google’s use of the Java APIs fell under “fair use.” The jury found that Google infringed a minimal amount of Java source code with Judge William Alsup indicating that Oracle would only be entitled to statutory damages as a result. This certainly wasn’t what Oracle was hoping for and when Oracle’s lawyer seemed to suggest they were entitled to more than just statutory damages, Judge William Alsup quickly put the kibosh on that notion based on the minimal amount of code infringed, stating what they’re seeking as “bordering on the ridiculous.”

Google immediately filed for a mistrial based on the juries inability to reach a decision on the “fair use” issue. In a statement made after the verdict Google said:

“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.”

The issue of whether or not the APIs in question are copyrightable is still up in the air and if Judge Alsup should rule that they are not, it would make the jury’s verdict on the infringement irrelevant.

The case has also moved straight to the next phase and the same jury will now have to decide whether or not Google has violated two of Oracle’s Java patents. Considerably less is expected in damages should Google be found guilty of violating those Java patents, and it’s beginning to look like Oracle will fall extremely short of their $1 billion dollar damage expectations, but we won’t know for sure what will be awarded until the final stage of the trial.

This won’t mean much of anything for you and I, but it means Google may have to pony up some cash to Oracle and their lawyers. We’ll keep you updated as the trial moves forward.