24th May, a 10-person jury found search giant Google not liable in Oracle Corporation patent infringement lawsuit against it. The claim arose from the Java technology that Google incorporated into its Android smartphone software. Oracle bought Java’s original rights holder and developer, Sun Microsystems and brought suit against Google for using Java code in Android. The database software giant was seeking damages of $1 billion from Google and an order preventing Google from shipping its Android operating system without paying Oracle a license.
In a unanimous vote, the jury ruled that Google did not violate any of the two claimed Oracle patents. Earlier, on May 7, the jurors found that Google infringed on Oracle’s copyrights. However, the group was deadlocked on the issue of whether the infringement fell under a fair use exemption. Under US copyright law, even if a party has infringed on another party’s copyrights, they do not have to pay damages or face criminal penalties if the infringement is considered “fair use.”
In the May 7 finding, the jury found that Google copied a total of nine lines of Oracle’s code in the code of Android. Nine lines out of 15 million total lines of code. Given the small amount of copied material, the court may order Google to pay up to the full legal limit of $150,000. While this number may look huge for normal consumers, this amount is a pittance for Oracle since it covers only a few days’ worth of legal fees.
The case is still not over. The federal District Judge handling the case, William Alsup, indicated that he may release a ruling this week on the issue of whether Oracle’s Java API (application programming interfaces) can be protected by copyright.