Copyright Law

Google Seeks Mistrial After Jury Deadlocks on Fair Use Question in Battle with Oracle


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Google’s lead lawyer in a battle over smart phone technology is seeking a mistrial after jurors found the company infringed the overall structure of Oracle’s copyrighted work, but deadlocked on whether the violation was fair use.

At issue in the three-phase San Francisco federal trial is whether Google infringed Oracle’s copyrighted and patented Java technology in Android software used in more than 300 million smart phones. Jurors issued the split verdict on Monday in phase one dealing with copyrights, report the New York Times, the Recorder and the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

Robert Van Nest, the lead lawyer for Google, said he would move for a mistrial on the copyright infringement question because of the contradiction, the stories say. “Eye-popping damage figures” are at stake, the Recorder says. Oracle’s lead lawyer, Michael Jacobs, said he would ask for a ruling as a matter of law that the fair use defense must fail.

Oracle won on a second issue when the San Francisco federal jurors ruled Monday that Google violated Oracle’s copyright in nine lines of computer code. Oracle considers those lines of no value; there are 15 million lines of code in Android, according to the Recorder account.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup made clear that Oracle had suffered the biggest loss, the Recorder says, when he noted that save for the nine lines of code, “there has been zero finding on liability on any copyright so far.”

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