It was recently reported that the jury in the Android/Java patent infringement case sided with Google, and Joe Mullin at Ars Technica reports that the 12 were split 9-3 in the search giant’s favor. Jury foreman Greg Thompson spent some time answering questions for reporters, while Oracle lawyers listened silently, learning that their client didn’t really have a chance at winning all along.
For a bit of backstory, Google’s trial against Oracle, who had sued over 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 protected. The outcome of the trial might’ve set a precedent regarding software developers’ use of open-source content.
Again, Oracle had tried to convince the court that the Java APIs were so complex that they could be classified as a protected creative work. Still, Thompson pointed out, even after a prompt from presiding Judge William Alsup to consider the Java APIs as being copyrighted, that the jury still sided with Google’s take on fair use of Oracles’ code – “A lot of the jurors were focused on functionality versus creativity,” Thompson stated, adding that the majority was “putting greater weight on functionality.”
Still, the jurors weren’t always very pleased with Google’s defense, and thought that they were relying too heavily on ex-Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz’s blog comments, which congratulated the search giant on Android’s launch. Thompson stated, “We felt like it wasn’t a good business practice to rely on a blog – Some of us had an underlying feeling that Google had done something that wasn’t right.”
When it came down to it, the jury couldn’t see the Java APIs as being protected art. Thompson added, “The more tech savvy a person is, the more difficult it might be to convince them of something that would limit [technology]… and future expansion of the common good,” commenting on the jury’s perception of fair use.