Jury possibly deadlocked on copyright issues in Oracle vs Google
The copyright part of Oracle's lawsuit against Google over possible infringement of the Java intellectual property in Android is moving into its final phase. Yesterday, Judge William Alsup asked both parties to submit answers to thirteen in-depth questions on the key point of the copyrightability of Java's APIs.
According to Groklaw, Judge Alsup's questions were prompted by this week's decision by the European Court of Justice which has ruled that APIs are not eligible for copyright protection as that "would amount to making it possible to monopolise ideas". Previously, US courts have generally held that functional characteristics of computer code cannot be copyrighted – Alsup now has to decide if this applies to Java's APIs as well. Google and Oracle have a week to each submit their answers to the questions and the judge has already hinted that the decision in the copyright phase of the trial might be postponed or even go to a retrial.
There are indications that, for the copyright part of the lawsuit, the jury might be deadlocked. A jury member asked the judge yesterday how the jury should proceed if an unanimous decision cannot be reached. Judge Alsup pointed out that the question did not come from the foreperson of the jury but hinted to the Oracle and Google attorneys that the copyright part of the lawsuit might take longer than expected.
During the deliberation of possible damages, the judge read from a sealed Google document that disclosed that Android made a net loss for the company in every quarter of 2011, despite generating approximately $97.7 million (£60 million) in revenues for the first quarter of that year alone. Oracle responded by saying that Google should not be allowed to deduct certain expenses for the purpose of ascertaining the copyright damages in the case.
The lawsuit over Oracle's claims that Google has been infringing its Java copyrights and patents in the implementation of the Dalvik virtual machine in Android has been being tried in court since the middle of April. The schedule for the case specifies that the court will first look at the alleged copyright infringement before moving on to the patents in question. After that, the court is set to decide on the applicable damages in the suit.
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