Jury Question Suggests Possible Impasse In Oracle-Google Trial
After more than 20 hours of deliberations spread over the past four days, the jury in the high profile Oracle-Google case may be struggling to reach a verdict in the copyright phase of the trial, according to multiple media reports late Thursday evening.
A member of the 12-person jury sent a note to U.S. District Judge William Alsup on Thursday afternoon, asking would happen if the panel was unable to reach an agreement on a verdict.
“What happens if we can’t reach a unanimous decision and people are not budging?” the juror asked in a note Judge Alsup read aloud in the San Francisco courtroom.
Judge Alsup called the jurors into the courtroom shortly before 4 pm on Thursday and urged them not to give up on their deliberations before excusing them for the day.
Deliberations are scheduled to resume Friday morning.
The juror’s question suggests the possibility that the jury may be at an impasse after hearing two weeks of evidence and testimony put forth by both sides of the case.
But Judge Alsup cautioned that it would be premature to conclude the jury is deadlocked.
If a unanimous verdict on the copyright infringement allegations is not reached, the trial will proceed to its second phase to determine whether Android violates two Java patents, Alsup told the jurors.
The trial stems from a lawsuit filed in 2010 by Oracle, who alleged that Google’s Android mobile operating system infringes copyrights and patents that protect Oracle’s Java programming platform.
Oracle is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, along with a court order that would require Google to get a licensing agreement to continue using elements of Java in Android.
But Google argues that it only used the parts of Java that are freely available, and fall under the “fair use” provision of U.S. copyright law.
If the copyright phase of the case results in a deadlocked jury, Alsup said it would likely be re-tried in the future.