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May 9, 2012

US jury delivers split verdict in Oracle-Google copyright case

Found Google violated Oracle's copyrights for nine lines of Java code

By CBR Staff Writer

A federal jury in US District Court in San Francisco has delivered a mixed verdict in the Oracle’s copyright-infringement case against Google, after a week of deliberation.

In a split verdict, the jury ruled that Google infringed some of Oracle’s claims on the Java programming language, however it couldn’t agree on whether Google’s use constituted "fair use" and was legally allowed, which was crucial in determining damages.

Oracle is seeking $1bn in damages and a possible injunction, after alleging copyright infringement claims over the use of the Java software by Google to build the Android mobile phone operating system.

The jury also found that Google had violated Oracle’s copyrights for programming tools and nine lines of Java code, and can seek statutory damages on those lines, which could range from $200 to $150,000.

The jury will now proceed with the next phase of the trial, covering Oracle’s allegations of patent infringement, and the final phase will decide the damages Oracle may receive.

Oracle had alleged Google copied 37 different Java APIs now owned by it, though the former’s defence is that the Java language can be used for free to build Android, which was also agreed by Sun.

Google spokesman Jim Prosser said fair use and infringement are two sides of the same coin.

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"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," Jim said.

Sun Microsystems first developed the free computer programming language Java which Oracle got when it bought Sun in January 2010.

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