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Oracle versus Google 'fair use' legal fight heading to DC?

updated 08:20 pm EDT, Wed July 18, 2012

Judge Alsup unlikely to overturn his own rulings

Fresh off a triumph over Oracle in its Java plagiarizing dispute, Google has undertaken a potentially-risky maneuver by filing for a judgement as a matter of law (JMOL) ruling from Judge William Alsup on various unresolved issues from Oracle's copyright claims, and requests a hearing date of August 23. Given Alsup's comprehensive judgement on the matter, the next venue for the appeal is almost certainly the Federal appeals court in Washington, DC. Both Oracle and Google have requested the judge rule on a JMOL motion related to the unceremonious $0 dollar settlement marking the end of the trial.

According to patent analyst Florian Mueller, the motions are filed with no expectations of achieving victory or a reversal, and essentially trial-balloon future arguments for the next round of appeals..

Critics of the appeal include Linux founder Linus Torvalds, who argues that the appeal is a waste of resources. Legal experts expect Alsup to be given some measure of deference on the ruling, since the judgement is very detailed. An entire section of the filing puts forth the history of the case as the judge sees it, with little spin, for the "benefit of the Court of Appeals."

Oracle had initially asked for billions of dollars in compensation for Google's infringement of Java code without licensing. After initial court battles went poorly for Oracle, Google proposed a half-percent of Android revenue license on one contested patent, and 0.015 percent of a second , but Oracle refused the offer.

Google's self-titled "Chief Java Architect" Joshua Bloch admitted to "likely" copying nine lines of Oracle's Java code for Android, but defended himself by saying he had inadvertently reused an algorithm he designed nearly a decade prior. Bloch called the copying "good engineering practice". The judge agreed, falling back on some previous coding experience of his own.

Both phases of the trial resulted in a jury that found it impossible to come to a full consensus. Ultimately, the jury found duplicated code, but no infringement. Oracle's attempt to toss the second jury ruling failed on May 31, leading to Alsup's decision later that day.

The case is responsible for a precedent-setting ruling (seen below) setting aside much of the jury's previous findings, and confirming the non-copyrightable nature of APIs. The language in the 41-page brief clearly attempts to prevent future legal procedural maneuvers from undermining the ruling.

by MacNN Staff



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