Google infringed Java copyrights in Android, jury finds

But the jury was deadlocked on the issue of fair use

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The jury actually had several copyright questions to decide on the [verdict form], although the ones about the API infringement and fair use were considered the most significant.

On another point, the jury decided Sun's public statements about Java were sufficient to to convince Google that it didn't need a license to use Java. But in another setback for Google, the jury decided there was insufficient evidence to show Google relied on those statements.

That means the jury wasn't swayed by a much-discussed blog post from then-Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, in which he congratulated Google on its release of Android and said that it would be good for Java.

Google did prevail on some other issues, including whether it infringed a copyright for Oracle's Java API documentation. The jury also ruled in Google's favor in two out of three instances where it was accused of copying a small amount of code line-by-line from Java.

It's not clear yet when the fair use issue will be put to a jury again, and Alsup has a few of options at his disposal. Last week he said he might resubmit the question to the jury after the patents phase, but the lawyers for Oracle and Google were both opposed to that idea and favor a new trial.

Fair use allows the copying of creative works for certain limited purposes, such as teaching, commentary and satire. The jury in this case considered factors such as whether Android was "transformative," meaning did it amount to a new creation or was it simply derivative from the Java APIs. They also considered how much of the work as a whole was copied; whether the use was commercial; and how much harm Oracle suffered as a result.

The patents phase of the trial that just started is expected to last about two weeks. Google will make its opening statement Tuesday morning and then Oracle will call its first witness to the stand.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is


Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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