Jury in Google vs. Oracle Case Possibly Deadlocked

    May 4, 2012
    Mike Fossum
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It would appear that the jury in Oracle’s case against Google regarding copyright infringement is possibly deadlocked, according to The Verge, due to a potential disagreement surrounding the concept of de minimis copying of protected content. Basically, this would mean the jury has yet to come to a decision regarding Google’s minimal copying of the 37 Java APIs used when developing Android.

For a bit of backstory, Google’s trial against Oracle, who is suing over patent infringement regarding the use of Java in building the Android OS, finally commenced just weeks ago – 18 months after Oracle’s initial complaint. While the main point of contention is whether or not Google violated any copyrights, the trial was to be more about whether or not Oracle can to get a jury to agree that some portions of its Java APIs (application programming interfaces) can be classified as created works of art, and thus protected. The outcome of the trial could set a precedent regarding software developers’ use of open-source content.

Still, there has been no official statement that the jury is tied up. Yesterday a juror, not the foreperson, had plainly asked presiding Judge William Alsup how the 12 should proceed if a unanimous decision can’t be reached if one member won’t change their stance. Alsup took both Google and Oracles counsels aside, and commented on a possible deadlock, stating that the court might “take what we can get and move on to the patent phase.” Alsup then brought the jury back in, and essentially gave them a little pep talk, commending them for poring over the technical complexity of the evidence of the trial, regardless of individual technical aptitudes. Then the jury was dismissed for the day, and will be back in today.

Neither side would likely want to move forth toward the patent phase without a unaminous decision regarding the infringement claims, de minimus or not. Though, surely Oracle would rather a retrial that to proceed with a deadlock. Perhaps the jury will come up with a decision today.