Jury Deliberates Copyright Phase Of Oracle-Google Case
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It is now up to a jury to decide whether Google infringed upon Oracle’s Java copyrights when the company developed its Android mobile operating system, the most popular smartphone software platform in the world.
Oracle attorney Michael Jacobs told the jury that Google’s defense amounted to a series of excuses for stealing Java in order to build Android.
Oracle, which owns Java through its 2010 acquisition of Sun Microsystems, sued Google later that year, alleging that Android infringes copyrights and patents that protect Java.
“This is a trial between large companies over really important business issues,” he said.
“We need the help of the justice system to enforce our intellectual property rights,” Jacobs told the jury.
The case, he said, boils down to whether or not one company can use another company’s property without permission.
“You will see email after email in which Google executives knew this day would come.”
Oracle alleges in its lawsuit that Google infringed upon 37 of its Java application programming interfaces, or APIs.
Jacobs compared the creation of APIs, the parts of Java that Google used for Android, to writing a piece of music.
“It’s magical. It’s like painting,” he said, noting that API design requires significant time and expertise.
Jacobs argued that Google did not merely transform the 37 Java API packages, but instead copied them from the Java core libraries into the Android core libraries.
“Google’s copying was extensive,” including 400 classes, 4,500 methods and 7,000 declarations, Jacobs said.
In total, this equates to about 11,000 printed pages of specifications, he said.
“That can’t be transformative. That’s just copying — copying for a business purpose.”
Jacobs said that Google used the 37 APIs in question because the company knew they were the most popular with developers, and thus the most valuable.
Google’s lead counsel, Robert Van Nest, countered Jacobs’ charges by saying that Google had merely interpreted a small part of Java open to public use.
But Jacobs said Google took the easy way out in trying to apply the fair use law, which allows companies and individuals to use copyrighted material for new and different purposes, as a way out of the lawsuit.
“If Google can just take the APIs and be forgiven under fair use, that licensing falls apart,” Jacobs said.
“That is the deep threat that Android represents to the entire Java community.”
Van Nest acknowledged that Google did have a small amount of proprietary Java code in Android, but said it was so insignificant as to be “not a big deal whatsoever.”
Van Nest leaned heavily on the testimony of former Sun chief executive Jonathan Schwartz during his closing argument.
Schwarz, who left Sun after it was acquired by Oracle, had said during testimony last week that Sun lacked any grounds to sue Google over Android.
However, Jacobs said it would have been Sun’s board of directors, not Schwartz, that had the ultimate authority to approve Google’s use of Android.
As part of his closing remarks, Van Nest used a prop of a white filing cabinet to illustrate the essential, organizing elements of Java used by Google to build Android.
Only the source code inside the cabinet would be protected by copyright, and Google used almost none of that, he told the jury.
Even the cabinet itself — the framework instructions for Java — were used so little that Oracle has failed to show they were copied, Van Nest explained.
“I’m not sure they even tried to prove this,” he said.
“There’s just a massive failure of proof.”
Jacobs characterized Google’s argument as: “ignore that we [Google] took the protected structure” of Java to build Android.
But the copying of Java’s structure “is not something trivial,” he said.
Oracle has argued it is owed $1 billion in damages as a result of Google’s alleged infringement, and may even pursue an injunction to block the sale of Android devices.
Monday’s closing statements only cover the copyright phase of the trial. After the jury delivers its verdict, something expected later this week, the trial will shift to patents. A third, damages phase related to both copyrights and patents could follow.