According to Bloomberg.com, on Wednesday, May 23, 2012, a unanimous jury found that Google did not infringe on Oracle’s Java patents in their Android operating system.
This ruling was phase two of the trial between Oracle and Google on patent violations. With this ruling, the jury was immediately dismissed. The judge also cancelled phase three which was to focus on damages.
Oracle was looking for $1 billion in damages for intellectual property theft of two important patents related to system and memory performance. With this ruling and the results of phase one of the trial, Oracle may be limited to $150,000 in damages.
In phase one, the jury found that Google infringed on the copyright structure of Oracle’s Java platform. Judge Alsup, however, must still decide if the previous copyright infringement was valid as the question is still open on whether the Java interfaces can be copyrighted. The judge initially instructed the jury to assume they were copyrightable. If they are covered as instructed, a new trial or an appeal may be needed to address damages.
In the long run, this is a win for application programming interfaces (APIs) and developers who depend on these free APIs to help grow a platform. Without that growth, consumers suffer from lack of an integrated and usable ecosystem. We’ll have to wait for the appeals by Oracle to see how this will impact Android and consumers in the long run.
For the complete transcript of the verdict, check out the full document as shared by Florian Muller of the FOSS Patents blog.
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