Oracle-Google Mixed Verdict: What’s Next

AndroidAndroid developers caught a break in the Oracle-Google trial with the jury’s mixed decision Monday. But the trial’s not over and even more litigation is expected.

The jury found that Google had infringed on Oracle’s copyrights for the Java programming language, but were deadlocked on whether APIs built with Java constituted fair use of the code. Google will not have to redesign the Android code, nor will developers have to rewrite existing projects, and Oracle will be limited to statutory damages, which range from $200 to $150,000, rather than damages of up to $1 billion that it had sought.

The infringement boils down to nine lines of software code called rangeCheck, according to The New York Times, for which Oracle will seek royalties. Oracle acquired Java creator Sun Microsystems in 2010. However, Google wants to keep Oracle out of future versions of Android and to prevent developers from having to seek a license for Java as well.

Oracle is claiming victory, while Google already is seeking a mistrial.

The case opens the prospect for other legal action against other smartphone vendors, such as Apple, Microsoft and Nokia. The issue has been whether APIs can be copyrighted. The European Union’s top court recently ruled they cannot. If a U.S. court rules otherwise, the effects could be far-reaching, with the cloud computing market among those prime for disruption, CNET says.

The second phase of the trial, involving patents, is to begin immediately. A third phase will determine damages.

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