updated 07:40 pm EDT, Thu September 15, 2011
Google loses most of summary judgment vs Oracle
Google faced a major setback to its defense against Oracle's lawsuit over Java in Android after Judge William Alsup tossed out most of Google's motions to dismiss parts of the case. The court denied all but one of Google's summary judgment requests over the copyright claims. Judge Alsup only agreed with Google that the names of files and sub-elements like classes weren't copyrightable.
The court sided with Oracle in saying that copyright dispute had to be handled file by file, not for Java as a whole. Google also hadn't been specific about what related programming interfaces were necessary to the infringing code and thus had been made exempt. Specifications for interfaces were protected by copyright even if there names weren't, the judge said, and a fair use benefit to Java couldn't be objectively proven in court.
The ruling didn't come to a conclusion on patent or copyright violations but meant Oracle could largely try for the full extent of damages. Judge Alsup's wording also suggested he disapproved of Google apparently ignoring risks and deciding to take its chances that Sun, which Oracle acquired in 2010, would approve of Java use without a license or other permission.
Oracle has been hoping for billions of dollars in licensing payments from Google for the purported copying. Google's hope in the near future may center around forced settlement talks that could see the two sides reach a deal rather than risk handing a major payout to Oracle or possible bans on Android devices in the US. [via Florian Mueller]