Jury Decides Google’s Android Did Not Infringe on Oracle’s Java Patents

Oracle’s epic legal battle against Google came crashing down on Wednesday when a jury decided that Google’s Android does not infringe on Oracle patents related to Java technologies. As a result, the judge overseeing the case dismissed the jury and damages are expected to be negligible.

“Today’s jury verdict that Android does not infringe Oracle’s patents was a victory not just for Google but the entire Android ecosystem,” a Google spokesperson said.

The case is rather complex, and it involved an amazing array of high-profile executives from both companies. But what it boils down to is this: About 2 weeks ago, the same jury ruled that Google’s Android did infringe on Oracle’s Java copyrights. But it could not reach a verdict on whether Google’s use of Java constituted fair use.

In this second phase of the trial, which concerned two Java-related patents that Oracle had accused Google of infringing, the jury ruled that Google did nothing wrong. So the third phase, which would have involved determining whether Oracle was to be awarded anything other than nominal damages, has been cancelled and the judge has dismissed the jury.

“Oracle presented overwhelming evidence at trial that Google knew it would fragment and damage Java,” an Oracle statement reads. “We plan to continue to defend and uphold Java’s core write-once-run-anywhere principle and ensure it is protected for the 9 million Java developers and the community that depends on Java compatibility.”

Now, the most that Oracle can collect in damages is about $200,000, a figure that is well below the cost of actually bringing the case to trial. Oracle—which now owns Java, the technology behind Android—sued Google in August 2010 for infringing on its intellectual property rights.

There’s still more court time to come, though few are sitting on the edges of their seats anymore. Judge William Alsup, who described the proceedings as “the longest civil trial" he’d ever been in, must rule on whether certain aspects of the Java APIs could be copyrighted in the first place, and, based on that, what sort of damages Google might need to pay. Those rulings could come as soon as next week, but they won’t happen anytime sooner: Judge Alsup announced that he was taking a couple of days off first.

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