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Jury Returns Mixed Verdict in Google, Oracle Lawsuit

By Robyn Hagan Cain on May 08, 2012 4:01 PM

The jury is back in the Google-Oracle copyright lawsuit, but the litigants may be headed for a mistrial.

After two years of litigation, a federal jury announced a verdict Monday in the Google-Oracle intellectual property battle. The jury found that Google infringed on some of Oracle's Java copyrights when developing its Android software, but jurors were unable to decide whether Google was protected under the fair-use doctrine, The Associated Press reports.

The fair-use doctrine is key because the nine lines of Java software that Google reportedly infringed had been licensed to other companies as open source code.

Google argued that it was allowed to use the Java programming language in the same way that any author freely uses the English language to write books, and asserted that Sun Microsystems had openly encouraged Google to use Java to make Android before Oracle purchased it, reports The New York Times.

A court determination regarding whether Google’s actions fall within the fair use doctrine will affect damages in the case. Oracle is seeking up to $1 billion from Google. Google, following the verdict, is seeking a mistrial, according to the AP.

Even if the mistrial motion is denied, Google and Oracle can look forward to spending a long time together in court. According to TechCrunch, this was only the first phase of litigation. Assuming that the case continues as planned, the jury will evaluate patent questions next, and will conclude by awarding damages in a third round.

Google responded to the verdict with the following statement: “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.”

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