David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Google Inc. (GOOG), the largest Web search
provider, didn’t infringe Oracle Corp. (ORCL)’s patents in developing
Android software, a federal jury found in the second phase of an
intellectual-property trial in San Francisco.
The 10-person jury ruled unanimously today that neither of
the two patents at issue was infringed. Jurors found May 7 that
Google infringed Oracle’s copyrights and deadlocked on whether
it was “fair use,” denying Oracle the ability to seek as much
as $1 billion in damages from the search engine company. Last
year Oracle said copyright damages could amount to $6 billion.
The patent phase of the trial was less important than the
copyright issues because the patents were worth much less, said
Brian Love, an intellectual-property attorney and teaching
fellow at Stanford Law School. Still, the jury finding today
underscored how the trial went against Oracle, he said.
“This case is maybe something like a near disaster for
Oracle,” Love said in a phone interview.
The company may be limited to seeking about $150,000, the
most allowed by law, for copyright infringement, the presiding
judge in the case has said.
“That potentially is not enough to cover what they are
spending over a couple of days” in legal fees during the trial,
U.S. District Judge William Alsup said he may issue a
ruling next week on whether Oracle’s Java application
programming interfaces, software tools at the heart of the case,
can be copyrighted. A ruling that they can’t would be another
blow to Oracle, while a ruling for Oracle would revive the
company’s ability to seek large damages.
Alsup also must rule on Oracle’s request for a patent
judgment in its favor based on his reading of the evidence, and
Google’s request for a new trial on copyright infringement.
Immediately after the verdict was announced, the judge
dismissed the jury from the case and canceled the third phase of
the trial over damages.
Oracle, the largest maker of database software, alleged
Google stole two patents for the Java programming language when
it developed Android, which now runs on more than 300 million
smartphones. In the first phase of the trial, the same jury
found the search engine company infringed Oracle’s Java
copyrights while it couldn’t agree on whether the copying was
“Today’s jury verdict that Android does not infringe
Oracle’s patents was a victory not just for Google but the
entire Android ecosystem,” Catherine Lacavera, Google’s
director of litigation, said in an e-mailed statement.
Google and Oracle’s experts had estimated damages for both
patents at $3 million to $4 million if the jury found
“Oracle presented overwhelming evidence at trial that
Google knew it would fragment and damage Java,” Deborah Hellinger, a spokeswoman for Oracle, said in an e-mail after the
verdict. “We plan to continue to defend and uphold Java’s core
write-once run-anywhere principle and ensure it is protected for
the nine million Java developers and the community that depend
on Java compatibility.”
Jury foreman Greg Thompson, 52, said today that during
deliberations he alone among the 10 jurors thought that Google
infringed Java patents. After almost six days of discussions,
said he was persuaded by other panel members to change his vote.
The jury lost two members over the course of the six-week
trial. Thompson said he alone voted that Google’s use of Java
copyrights didn’t constitute fair use early in deliberations in
the copyright phase. Eventually he convinced two other jurors
and the jury deadlocked after nine members voted that Google
made fair use of the copyrights, he said.
“The more tech-savvy a person is, the more difficult it is
to persuade them about what limitations should be placed on
technology,” Thompson said in an interview after the trial.
Handing patent cases to juries is “always a mixed bag,”
Google rose $8.66 to $609.46 at 4:02 p.m. in New York
trading after spiking as much as 0.7 percent when the verdict
was announced. Oracle climbed 32 cents to $26.68.
The case is Oracle v. Google, 10-3561, U.S. District Court,
Northern District of California (San Francisco).
To contact the reporter on this story:
Karen Gullo in San Francisco at
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Michael Hytha at