A jury in California has ruled that Google's Android mobile platform does not infringe on two patents for the Java software language held by Oracle.


The ruling means that Oracle's bid for damages from the internet search giant will be put on hold indefinitely as the jury sided with Google's defence that its use of Java APIs is protected by copyright law's fair use exception.

Google will be relieved at the verdict, as the company could have been forced to pay Oracle damages of up to $1bn if it had been found guilty.

Oracle said after the court was dismissed: "Oracle presented overwhelming evidence at trial that Google knew it would fragment and damage Java. 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."

After the trial, jury foreman Greg Thompson told reporters that he was the only juror in favour of Oracle's case and most of the others were siding with Google's argument, while a few were initially undecided.

Google said after the 24 May ruling: "Today's jury verdict that Android does not infringe Oracle's patents was a victory not just to Google but the entire Android ecosystem."

This second stage of the trial focused on whether or not an API (application programming interface) can be copyrighted, with the jury deciding that they are more of a functional tool rather than a creative tool.

Thompson said: "A lot of jurors were focused on functionality versus creativity," with the majority "putting greater weight on functionality." He added that, in his opinion, Google's arguments in favour of open-source software swayed more tech savvy jurors.

Intellectual property expert Florian Mueller added to Thompson's views on his Foss Patents blog: "A jury trial on patent infringement is a lottery since anyone who really would have the knowledge that is needed to understand the issue typically gets excluded. Also, different juries have different tendencies. Google was very lucky with this jury.

"The fact that Judge Alsup had to overrule the jury on one copyright liability item shows that this is a jury that erred in Google's favor."

Earlier in the trial, the jury concluded that Google had infringed on 37 separate APIs, but could not decide on whether or not this amounted to "fair use" and this matter will now have to be finalised by the Judge in the case.

The cost of the six week trial for Oracle is likely to run to several million dollars, according to Penn Law Professor R Polk Wagner, who told Ars Technica: "Six weeks is a long trial, plus the case was fairly complex. I would not be surprised if [Oracle's costs were] more than $10 million once you include the enormous amount of prep work."

There is also likely to be appeals to the decisions by both Google and Oracle, which will drag out the process and cost both sides even more money.