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Java IoT: Article

First Decision in Java Trial Goes to the Jury

Among other things the poor jury has to struggle with are the judge’s 19 pages of instructions

Two weeks after the trial started, the first part of the three-part Oracle case against Google went to the jury mid-day Monday.

Among other things the poor jury - one of whom reportedly didn't want to continue but the judge persuaded her to - has to struggle with are the judge's 19 pages of instructions, instructions neither side appreciated.

A pity judges aren't required to make instructions comprehensible to the average juror instead of an eventual appeals court.

This jury has to decide if Google infringed Oracle's Java copyrights, or rather parts of Java, to wit, the structure, sequence and organization of 37 Java APIs - as the judge instructed them - in developing Android and then whether Google made "fair use" of the widgetry and thereby advanced the public interest by adding something new and different to the whole megillah - and not necessarily something profitable - two separate decisions.

The jury was also told it can write off elements Google concedes it used that are "de minimus." Unfortunately the jury can't take a dictionary into the jury room.

It would serve everybody right if the decision results in a hung jury but the judge figures they'll be back in a day or so.

Google contends that what it borrowed - accidentally and subsequently removed - isn't covered by copyright - it's just part of the Java that's free for anybody to use and anyway its APIs are different from Oracle's APIs.

By Oracle's count that amounts to 400 classes, 4,500 methods, 7,000 declarations or approximately 11,000 printed pages. Google claims that adds less than half a percent.

Google made liberal use of ex-Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz's testimony last week that Sun didn't mind Google encroaching and had no grounds to sue because Google did nothing wrong in building its own version of Java despite the fact Sun was asking for $30 million-$50 million for a Java license. (Go figure.)

The judge is reserving the ultimate decision on whether APIs - described by Oracle's lawyer in his summation as Java's "crown jewels" - can be copyrighted to himself. Oracle claims Google's copying damaged the Java community and fragmented Java's famed write-once-run-anywhere, making it hard for Oracle to compete despite Google knowingly risking a lawsuit.

Oracle used ex-Sun CEO's Scott McNealy's argument that Jonathan's Android-welcoming blog post wasn't a license and Google knew it needed a license.

Google contends its engineers may have had prior knowledge of Java - since they worked at Sun - but built the Davlik VM in a clean room. Oracle contends the clean room was dirty, very dirty.

The second part of the trial is supposed to focus on Oracle's truncated patent claims. Depending on how things go damages would follow. Oracle is currently asking a billion dollars plus an injunction.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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