Google absolved in Oracle patent battle

By Dan Levine on May 24, 2012 8:48 AM
Filed under Software

No unanimous decision on copyright decision.

Google's Android mobile platform has not infringed Oracle's patents, a California jury decided Wednesday in a high-stakes trial fought by the two Silicon Valley giants over smartphone technology.

Because the same jury could not unanimously agree on the copyright allegations earlier in the case, the latest verdict on patents effectively puts an indefinite hold on Oracle's quest for damages.

The verdict was delivered in a San Francisco federal court this week, and confirmed by a Google spokesman. An Oracle attorney declined to comment on the decision.

The jury found earlier that Oracle had proven copyright infringement for parts of Java. But the jury could not unanimously agree on whether Google could fairly use that material.

Oracle sued Google in August 2010, saying Android - the world's most used mobile software - infringed on its intellectual property rights to the Java programming language. Google says it does not violate Oracle's patents and that Oracle cannot copyright certain parts of Java as an open source software language.

While Oracle is seeking about $1 billion in copyright damages, the patent damages in play are much lower. Before trial, Google offered to pay Oracle roughly $2.8 million in damages on the two patents remaining in the case, covering the period through 2011, according to a filing made jointly by the companies.

For future damages, Google proposed paying Oracle 0.5 percent of Android revenue on one patent until it expires this December and 0.015 percent on a second patent until it expires in April 2018. Oracle rejected the settlement offer.

During trial, US District Judge William Alsup revealed that Android generated roughly $97.7 million in revenue during the first quarter of 2010.

Without a finding against Google on the fair use question, Oracle cannot recover damages on the bulk of its copyright claims. And Alsup has not yet decided on several legal issues that could determine how a potential retrial on copyright would unfold.

Shares in Oracle stood largely unchanged at mid-afternoon at $26.41. Google stock was up 0.7 percent at $604.81.

 
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