updated 07:00 pm EDT, Thu October 4, 2012
Oracle must overcome both 'fair use' and non-patentable API issues
At the end of the day on Wednesday, and months after the surprise close of the trial, Oracle filed with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California a notice of appeal of Judge William Alsup's decision in the Java patent trial with Google. Oracle is contesting the decision based on Judge Alsup's ruling of the Java API being non-patentable.
Oracle must prevail in appeals court on two factors -- Java APIs must be found copyrightable by the Federal Circuit or the Supreme Court, and secondly, Google must be found to not be using Oracle's code on a "fair use" basis. Based on several juror interviews after the trial, a large number of the jurors thought that Google was using the codebase unfairly, but couldn't come to a consensus.
According to patent analyst Florian Mueller, Oracle has three options for a new trial. First, Oracle may obtain a judgement as a matter of law against Google's fair use of the patents from the appeals court. Second, the infringement finding could stand even though a trial may be required on "fair use." Google claims that the two items can't be tried separately, but Oracle has no problem with them being merged. Third, Google may be able to connect the infringement with fair use in one combined trial.
During the trial, the jury found duplicated Java code in Google's Android codebase, but no infringement. Buffeted further by rulings from Alsup that eliminated the possibility of any damages, Oracle agreed to a $0 dollar settlementfrom Google, with no admission of infringement by the search engine giant.
The case is responsible for a precedent-setting ruling confirming the non-copyrightable nature of application programming interfaces, or APIs -- the instructions to developers on how to build their own applications for a given platform. The language in the 41-page brief clearly attempts to prevent future legal procedural maneuvers from undermining the ruling. No date has been set for the appeal.
Oracle v. Google: Order Regarding Copyrightability of APIs