The jury in the epic intellectual property trial between Oracle(s orcl) and Google(s goog) is going home after ruling today that the latter didn’t infringe on two patents related to the Java programming language.
The finding is a major blow to Oracle. The same jury was earlier unable to decide whether Google’s use of Java Application Interfaces was fair use under copyright law.
“Today’s jury verdict that Android does not infringe Oracle’s patents was a victory not just for Google but the entire Android ecosystem,” said Google in an email statement.
“”Oracle presented overwhelming evidence at trial that Google knew it would fragment and damageJava. 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,” said an Oracle spokesperson via email.
The trial, which the judge earlier described as “the World Series of IP,” has been a key test of how far intellectual property should go in protecting common features of software development. Many in Silicon Valley have said that an infringement finding could impede their ability to develop new products.
With the patent phase of the trial now concluded, Oracle is now down to its last strike as it waits for US District Judge William Alsup to rule on the fair use issue. While the jury agreed that Google’s use of the Java APIs was infringement, it was hung on the question of fair use.
Judge Alsup will make his decision in the coming days. The judge, who surprised the courtroom this month by revealing that he had taught himself to code in Java, has at times evinced skepticism about some of Oracle’s claims. He earlier described Oracle’s request for hundreds of millions in damages as “the height of ridiculousness.”
Fair use is a legal doctrine that permits people to use copyrighted material without permission in certain situations such as reporting or research. Under American law, courts use a four-part test for fair use that looks at factors like “nature of the work” and the effect on the original work.
Oracle’s only victory so far has been an earlier jury finding that Google infringed on nine lines of Java code. The victory was pyrrhic, however, as Oracle is unlikely to be eligible for more than $150,000 under statutory damages. That would be far less than the parties have spent on litigation.
The jury in the case was dismissed after today’s verdict, meaning that a proposed damages phase of the trial will no longer take place.