Just over a week ago, the jury began deliberations on the ongoing patent infringement case between Google and Oracle. After waiting in the wings, with bated breath, the verdict is finally in, as Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court of Northern California dismissed the jury this afternoon after a unanimous decision that ruled in favor of Google’s mobile OS — declaring that Android did not in fact infringe on the Oracle patents in question.
The decision follows an opposing verdict earlier this month, in which the jury in the long-running infringement case found that certain components of Android APIs had too close of a resemblance to code used in Oracle’s Java programming tools. However, the jury ended up splitting on the notion of whether or not Google could in fact claim fair use in its defense (which could have then led to a mistrial.)
The jury’s decision was obviously a laborious one, following two years of a legal back-and-forth between the two tech giants. Oracle had initially filed the lawsuit back in August 2010, in which the company asserted that Android infringed on Java patents that Oracle acquired as a result of its purchase of Sun Microsystems. Google responded by saying that, at the time of development, it was not aware of Sun’s patents and that Android was in fact free to use.
Of course, that decision was only the first act in the three-part deliberations, in which the copyright infringement issues were to be followed by consideration of Oracle’s patent infringement claims (the focus of today’s hearing) and, finally, the damages Google might be liable for were it found found to infringe.
However, much of that speculation was rendered moot today, as a week of deliberation came to a close today at the U.S. District Court of Northern California, with the jury unanimously declaring that Google did not in fact infringe on the six claims set forth by Oracle in regard to U.S. Patent RE 38,104 as well as the two claims regarding U.S. Patent 6,061,520.
Of course, this does not mean that the whole case has been decided; instead, the decision marks the end of the trial’s second phase, which, again, focused solely on Oracle’s claims of patent infringement.
While the jury had previously found that Google was in violation of Oracle’s copyrights, as stated above, it could not come to a unanimous decision on the issue of fair use. Meaning that, although Oracle ostensibly “won” its copyright case, it effectively has a hold on its ability to collect on any of the $1 billion in copyright damages it is seeking from Google — a conclusion that was supported by the tweets of legal reporter Ginny LaRoe, who attended today’s hearing.
On top of that, there are a number of other legal questions surrounding the copyright case on which Judge Aslup has yet to issue a final ruling, although he is expected to come to a decision next week.