updated 12:55 pm EDT, Thu May 5, 2011
Oracle forced to scale back patent claims
Oracle faced a major setback in its Java patent lawsuit versus Google on Thursday after the court forced it to scale back the number of claims. Judge William Alsup ordered the company to drop the number of claims leveled against Android from 132 to just three as it was simply "too much." Oracle would also be banned from bringing any of those claims back except for a new product, which could exempt Android altogether.
Cutbacks had to occur in phases, with the list whittled back to 40 claims a week after a claim construction order arrived, 20 by August 24, and the final three between the summary judgment order on October 13 and the last pre-trial meeting on October 17. If neither side decides to quit or settle the case, the trial would start on October 31.
The sudden reduction wouldn't prevent Oracle from exacting stiff punishment against Google if successful but would force the company to give up the sweeping focus of its lawsuit. Most of its argument has been based on the assumption that Google was broadly copying Java with Android's Dalvik engine but will now have to pick just the best examples. Its case now stands a greater likelihood of being tossed out since it no longer has the cushion of the full 132 patents.
Judge Alsup anticipated this possibility and asked both Oracle and Google whether they felt a trial would be necessary with the scope of the case trimmed down. [via GrokLaw]