Featured: Partial verdict puts Google partially guilty in Oracle vs Google trial

The jury in the Oracle vs Google trial has found Google liable of infringing upon Oracle's Java copyrights. However, the jury remains deadlocked on the more critical issue at hand: did Google make fair use of the Java APIs. Last Friday, the jury told Judge William Alsup that they were unable to reach the required unanimous decision on the fair use issue. The jurors were instructed to ponder the situation over the weekend. Today, they reached a unanimous vote, agreeing that Google did indeed infringe on Oracle's copyright claim, thus giving only a partial verdict.

The following 4 questions were presented to the jury:

The jury agreed that Oracle was able to prove Google infringed upon their structure, sequence and organization (SSO) of 37 Java API's found in Android. Judge Alsup now needs to determine if software API's are indeed copyrightable. Recently in Europe, a courts decision ruled that computer language or the functionality of a computer program cannot be copyrighted.

Actual code aside, the jury found that Google did not infringe upon any documentation processes.

Next, the jury was asked if Google had literally copied code, directly from Java. Was the copying in fact de minimis: too small to constitute any actionable infringement or not? Of the three code sets,  the jury found that Google had infringed with only one of the three: the rangeCheck code.

Google's official statement on today's proceedings:

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.

Oracle's official statement on today's proceedings:

Oracle, the nine million Java developers, and the entire Java community thank the jury for their verdict in this phase of the case. The overwhelming evidence demonstrated that Google knew it needed a license and that its unauthorized fork of Java in Android shattered Java's central write once run anywhere principle. Every major commercial enterprise -- except Google -- has a license for Java and maintains compatibility to run across all computing platforms.

What's next? Google has filed for a mistrial due to the fact that the jury has left much of the case up in the air for speculation. The jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision on whether Google's implementation of the Java VM (Dalvik VM) constituted fair use. A fair use ruling would land a win for Google. Today's partial verdict only covers the copyright portion of the case.  Next up is the patent phase of the trial where Google and Oracle shall argue over two patents Google allegedly violated with Android. If the trial continues, the final phase would be all about money. This is where Oracle would asses a monetary value to cover the damages of Google infringing on their intellectual property.

At this stage in the game it's still too early to tell what the outcome of the trial may be. I'm not a lawyer, but my take on the situation looks pretty good for Google getting a mistrial declared.

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