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18 February 2011, 11:56

Google requests re-examination of Java patents

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Google has launched a counter-attack in the dispute over the Java patents transferred to Oracle from Sun: the company has requested the US Patent and Trademark Office to re-examine ("ex parte re-examination") four of the patents. The process will involve an independent expert evaluating whether the inventions were patentable in the first place.

The patents to be re-examined are US patent numbers 5,966,702 (Method and apparatus for pre-processing and packaging class files), 6,061,520 (Method and system for performing static initialization), 6,125,447 (Protection domains to provide security in a computer system) and RE 38,104 (Method and apparatus for resolving references in generated code). According to the Patentology web site, Google's re-examination request against the first three patents is based upon previously existing patents or known methods ("prior art"). Details regarding the fourth patent have not yet become available.

Last August, Oracle had sued Google over the alleged infringement of these four, plus a further three patents. Oracle asserts that Google infringes its patents and copyrights; for example, by distributing the Dalvik VM and the Android software development kit, and that Google should be paying royalties. Legal firm WHDA considers it possible that Google will soon request re-examination of the remaining three patents asserted by Oracle. Google may also request that the trial judge stay the case pending completion of the re-examination proceedings, said WHDA. Groklaw reports that Google has also asked for leave to file a motion of summary judgement in respect to the copyright claims in the Oracle law suit.


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