The jury’s verdict has come back on the first phase of the Oracle-Google trial, and while they found that Android had infringed Oracle’s copyright, the jurors couldn’t decide unanimously on the issue of fair use.
Throughout the case, Google has argued it made “fair use” of the Java APIs in question when developing Android. Because the jury couldn’t rule that Google acted outside of fair usage in its actions, the verdict is effectively a deadlocked one, and the strongest part of Oracle’s case has rather stalled.
Judge William Alsup told both sides yesterday that without a verdict on fair use, there was “zero finding of copyright liability”.
The result means that there doesn’t seem to be much chance of Oracle coming away with the billion dollars in damages the firm had hoped for.
The jury’s verdict was expected to be delivered last week, so evidently there was a great deal of arguing over the fair use aspect, which wasn’t resolved ultimately. Now the second phase of the trial, which concerns patent infringement, has begun – but this is a less weighty issue than the key one of copyright.
Google also now intends to push for a mistrial on the copyright issue, arguing that the verdict has no standing without a decision on the issue of fair use.
Oracle could opt to attempt to persuade the judge to issue a verdict on fair use himself, but that’s not likely to be a productive avenue. Alsup said of that prospect: “I could do that at any time, but I may never get there. I think there are arguments that go both ways on that.”
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