The jury in the long-running infringement case between Google and Oracle has ruled that certain pieces of Android APIs were too similar to code used in Oracle’s Java programming tools. But the jury was split on whether or not Google could claim fair use in its defense, which could lead to a mistrial.
The decision comes after nearly two years of legal wrangling between the companies: Oracle originally filed the lawsuit in August 2010, claiming that Android infringed on technology that it had acquired from Sun Microsystems a year earlier.
But it wasn’t a quick or decisive ruling: The jury’s decision came down after District Judge William Alsup urged jurors to take the weekend to consider claims, after it had reached a partial decision last week. Even with that time, the jury was still unable to rule whether Google was protected under the fair use doctrine. That could throw a wrench in things, as an attorney for Google said the search giant would file for mistrial as a result, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
The decision is just the first of three portions of deliberation in the jury trial. The first section revolves around the copyright question related to the alleged infringement. The jury will return to consider patent questions in the second round of deliberations, and will consider damages that Google might be liable for in a third round.
I’ve reached out to Google and Oracle for official comment on the jury’s decision and will update this post when/if I hear back!
Update. Google issued the following statement: “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.“