updated 12:00 pm EDT, Thu June 23, 2011
Four more patents still subject to review
The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) dealt Oracle another blow in its legal battle with Google over Java use the Android OS. Oracle has asked the USPTO to reexamine seven patents, that the company holds regarding Java, and verify their validity. The patent office has ruled that 17 out of 21 claims in one patent are not enforceable.
Oracle sued Google last August, claiming that Google had systematically infringed on the seven Java-specific patents. Oracle acquired the rights to those patents when it bought Sun Microsystems in 2009 for $7.4 billion. In October, Oracle had to amend its lawsuit because it was seen as being too vague.
In May, the presiding judge in the court case ruled that Oracle must shrink its patent infringement claims from 123 down to only three. If the case isn't settled, it will go to trial in late October.
In an independent action, Oracle had asked the USPTO to reexamine 168 claims held via the seven patents. So far, only three patents, including the one ruled on Wednesday, have been looked at. Of the 86 related claims, 16 were not subject to review, 46 were rejected, and 20 were left standing. Since many of the claims are interdependent, even those remaining may ultimately not be enforceable.
There is some evidence that Google might have used some elements of Java in Android's Davik virtual machine code. However, Google has argued that Oracle, which had once argued for open-source coding, changed its tune for profit once it had snapped up Sun.[via Groklaw]