Tuesday, 08 May 2012 08:37

Jury finds for Oracle, but no resolution on 'fair use'

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Oracle has come out on top in the first phase of its case against Google, with a jury having decided that the search giant infringed on copyrights held by the database maker.

However, the 12-member panel was deadlocked on whether the infringement could be excused under the principle of fair use.

The jury had a series of questions before it, all of which were to be answered "yes" or "no".

The first, 1A, was: "As to the compilable code for the 37 Java API packages in question taken as a group: has Oracle proven that Google has infringed the overall structure, sequence and organization of copyrighted code?"

The jury came in with a "yes" on this one.

A second question, 1B, was "Has Google proven that its use of the overall structure, sequence and organization constituted 'fair use?'" On this, the jury was deadlocked.

Question 2 was: "As to the documentation for the 37 Java API packages in question taken as a group: Has Oracle proven that Google has infringed? Has Google proven that its use of Oracle's Java documentation constituted "fair use?"

On this, the jury ruled in Google's favour.

With regard to the rangeCheck method in TimSort.java and ComparableTimSort.java; the source code in seven "Impl.java" files and the one "ACL" file; and the English-language comments in CodeSourceTest.java and CollectionCertStoreParametersTest.java, a yes/no answer was required to question 3: "Has Oracle proven that Google's conceded use of the following was infringing, the only issue being whether such use was de minimis".

This question was also answered in Oracle's favour.

If jurors answered yes to question 1B, then they are asked to answer yes or no to to: "Has Google proven that Sun and/or Oracle engaged in conduct Sun and/or Oracle knew or should have known would reasonably lead Google to believe that it would not need a license to use the structure, sequence and organization of the copyrighted compilable code?"

On this, the jury agreed with Google.

And if jurors have answered question 1A in the positive, then they have been asked to answer yes or no to: "If so, has Google proven that it in fact reasonably relied on such conduct by Sun and/or Oracle in deciding to use the structure, sequence and organization of the copyrighted compilable code without obtaining a license?"

This question was decided in Oracle's favour.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the jury agreed with Oracle's contention that the code in two files and the structure and design of Android's application programming interfaces were sufficiently similar to those in Oracle's Java programming language to be deemed an infringement.

Judge William Alsup has asked both sides in the trial to file their motions on a move for a mistrial on the API question by Google. Damages, if any, will largely hinge on this issue.

The second phase of the trial, the patents phase, will now begin.


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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