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01 May 2012, 10:41

The Oracle vs. Google case now with the jury

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Oracle vs Android icon On Monday, after two weeks of testimony and examination of witnesses, the first phase of the Oracle/Google trial was completed with the lawyers from both companies presenting their closing statements and the jury being sent to consider its verdict. This first phase of the trial concerns only the copyright issues around the Java APIs and how Google created its Android APIs.

Oracle's claim is that Google copied the structure of the Android APIs from the Java APIs, whilst being aware that this could be legally problematic. Google's defence is that Android is an original work which only used elements of freely available elements of Java under "fair use" and that Sun Microsystems at the time had encouraged Google in its development.

The judge has reserved his opinion on whether or not APIs are copyrightable, but told the jury that for the purposes of their deliberations, they should consider them protectable. Oracle's lawyer Michael Jacobs has characterised the APIs as "complex, creative and artful" and that it was "very substantial copying that Google engaged in". Jacobs pointed to emails from Google which he argues show the company was aware of the risks of that copying and that postings on a blog by then Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz was neither permission or a licence to Google.

Google's lawyer, Robert van Nest, said that it was exactly that reaction to Android at the time that shows Google did nothing wrong and that Schwartz was confirming what Google believed. Google's defence is that Sun gave the Java language to the public, Google used free and open technologies to build Android and made fair use of the Java language APIs and that Sun publicly approved of this use.

The jury of seven men and five women then began deliberations and could take up to a week to decide. Although they have to return with an unanimous decision Judge William Alsup predicted they would return within a day and a half. Once the jury has returned a verdict, the case's second phase will begin, this time looking at the patent elements of Oracle's suit.

On his blog and away from the court room, James Gosling, father of Java, responding to an inaccurate portrayal of his position on the case, said "Google totally slimed Sun". Gosling says Sun wasn't a company that had "patent suits in our genetic code doesn't mean we didn't feel wronged" and that while he has differences with Oracle "in this case they are in the right". Referring to Schwartz's statements at the time he says that the CEO "just decided to put on a happy face and tried to turn lemons into lemonade, which annoyed a lot of folks at Sun". Goslings posting will, of course, have no bearing on the trial.

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