A federal judge in San Francisco has handed Oracle another setback in its case against Google. Oracle Corp. had accused Google Inc. of stealing Oracle's Java programming language to build Google's Android software for mobile devices.
On May 7, jurors delivered a partial verdict largely in Google's favor:
— In the most important aspect of the case, jurors found Google violated Oracle's copyrights in using 37 of Java's "application programming interfaces," or APIs, that provide the blueprints for making much of the software work effectively. However, jurors couldn't agree on whether Google was protected by "fair use" provisions of U.S. copyright law. As a result, the verdict is of little value to Oracle, which had wanted to extract hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.
— Jurors cleared Google of infringement surrounding manuals for those APIs.
— Jurors found that Google infringed on nine lines of Java coding, but the penalty for that violation is confined to statutory damages no higher than $150,000.
— Jurors cleared Google of infringement on two other minor Java elements.
— In an advisory verdict for the judge, the jury concluded that Google was led to believe that it wouldn't need a license for the parts of Java that it used in Android. But the jury also decided Google didn't prove those representations were the reason why Google decided not to obtain a Java license.
On May 23, jurors cleared Google of infringing two Oracle patents.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled that the APIs that were central to the May 7 verdict aren't subject to copyright in the first place. Google wasn't facing damages on that because of the impasse on the fair-use question. But the ruling could be important in an appeal. Oracle said it will appeal Alsup's ruling.